By Ben Everard, California Political Review
First the IRS. Then the DOJ. And now the NSA. Comparisons of the current Administration to the Big Brother Administrative State must now be taken seriously, particularly in light of recent revelations. The stories revolving around separate departments of our increasingly complex bureaucracy reveal something much broader about the current state of big government and the individual liberties of the average American citizen. The picture painted is one we as a society need to debate very seriously, for the interaction between the administrative state and its people may well be at a critical turning point in American history.
One thing is clear: the new digital age has fundamentally changed the concept of privacy in our everyday lives. Our digital footprints, from simple cell phone calls (revealing one’s location and interactions) to our daily correspondence via email (revealing one’s communications and thoughts), to our credit card purchases (revealing one’s preferences), to our web browsing (revealing one’s interests) are increasingly becoming permanent. Revelations about the NSA’s intelligence gathering program, leaked initially by former NSA contractor Eric Snowden, demonstrate that the permanency of our digital footprints is not an academic afterthought, but is in fact being actively gathered by our very own government. And while there are certainly legitimate reasons to monitor the movements of known terrorists, it is clear that the privacy of average Americans is implicated as well. When collected, it is quite easy for the government to know almost everything a person does throughout the day. The cementing of this information into a national “database” carries with it enormous implications.
The mere fact that this information can be gathered should not come as a major surprise; for years Google has utilized the information its algorithms gather based upon keywords from an individual’s browser searches and emails to determine which advertisements that person should see. We as a society have generally accepted this as clever marketing and a cost of doing business today. But what happens when the information is used and tracked not to send an advertisement, but rather, by the government to spy on American citizens? Taken one step further, what if the government uses technology to monitor, in real time, the correspondence of a normal American citizen, such as a reporter covering a story that sheds a bad light on the government?
Such a specific example is used because this exact fact pattern may have actually occurred (with an emphasis on may). CBS news reporter Shary Attkisson published several important stories surrounding the Benghazi massacre in late 2012, some of which contradicted the Administration’s stance on the story at the time. Her actions were entirely consistent with a journalist aggressively pursuing the truth — in short, doing her job. Shortly thereafter, however, Attkisson began to notice unusual activity on her personal computer — it would turn off and on randomly at night, for instance. Perplexed, she looked into the matter via third party forensics analysis. CBS news recently confirmed that her computer was indeed hacked from an outside source who appeared to have snooped on her daily computer activity, while ignoring her personal information, such as financial data and passwords. Thus, the entity monitoring her computer was more concerned with whom she was corresponding with and what she knew about breaking stories, such as Benghazi.
Source: California Political Review