Saturday, December 22, 2012

Big Obama Is Listening

Clearly, privacy advocates are more concerned about who is invading our privacy, and not the concept of privacy invasion itself. In just the last few days, I have come across several examples of the federal government delving ever deeper into our private lives, and all the indignant voices we heard during the Bush years have kept strangely silent.

For example, Big Brother wants every car to have data collection devices that he can access whenever he wishes.

As I recall, it was only four years ago that Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski proposed the idea of installing a global positioning system tracking device on every automobile operating within his state. No, he wasn’t acting as some benevolent government leader seeking to help his constituents navigate their way home. He wanted to collect a record of your driving history.

The supposed justification for his Big Brotheresque intrusion was to satiate one the Democrat Party’s two most irresistible urges, tax collection.

Oregon was unhappy that modern, more efficient cars were reducing gasoline tax collection. Historically, such taxes are collected according to the volume of gasoline consumed. But a car that gets 30 miles per gallon pays half the gas taxes per mile compared with a 15 mpg automobile. The law of unintended consequences is now giving Democrats a case of tyrant’s remorse.

So now they want you to pay by the mile. And what better way to achieve that than to install a GPS in your car that will record every mile you travel. And everywhere you go. And how fast you travel. And, just about anything else about your driving habits.

Soon after Kulongoski floated his idea in Oregon, one of his allies in the United States House of Representatives introduced a federal law to inflict Kulongoski’s revenge nationwide.

Now the Obama administration wants in on the act. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) wants to mine data from all cars on the road. Automobile manufacturers have been installing data collectors in cars for years. These sensors are typically used by manufacturers to assist them in improving automobile safety, but governments have been known to seize the data when it suits them.

One famous example involved former New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine. Police determined from the data recorder installed on his Suburban that he was travelling 91 mph when he rolled it.

And while a good case could be made for acquisition of the data as part of a criminal investigation, NHTSA just wants to keep an eye on us.

It wouldn’t be at all out of character for this regime. In fact, you are being surveilled to a degree that you probably cannot even imagine.

I find it remarkable that the very same people who howled in rage over the Patriot Act are so indifferent to Obama’s intrusions.

A few years ago, the New York Times revealed that the Bush Administration was using warrantless wiretaps to secretly record telephone conversations involving known terrorists. Whenever a telephone call was made to or from a known terrorist overseas and someone here in the United States, we listened in, seeking to learn what sort of mischief was afoot. Elite opinion howled with outrage and accused Bush of listening in on all conversations. We were on a slippery slope toward having George Bush listen to all of our conversations.

As it turns out, you don’t even have to use a phone or call anyone nefarious to attract the Obama Administration’s attention. The Department of Homeland Security has initiated a program of recording conversations between ordinary citizens using public transportation. Homeland Security has awarded grants to a number of cities so that they may install listening devices that can record, isolate and transmit conversations overheard on those buses.

If you ride a bus in a number of “progressive cities,” Obama is listening in.

And, according to the Wall Street Journal, plans are being made to accumulate and centralize all manner of data on you for future use. Here are some examples of the seemingly innocuous data that the government already keeps on you: If you have flown in the last five years, worked in a casino, or hosted a foreign exchange student, the National Counterterrorism center has the records. Any transaction that comes to the attention of the federal government is now being fed into computer databases looking for suspicious patterns of behavior.

Big Brother was an amateur compared to Big Obama.


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