Thanks for reading these words.
I understand that we are tired from the onslaught of bad news and information, that information is driving us crazy. Even if you agree, if not especially because you agree with what I say, you’ll get tired of reading these pieces. For that I apologize. I feel the same way.
It’s just that everyday I am offended by the latest attack on basic human decency coming out of the Trump administration and the Republican controlled Congress. I write these pieces to purge my own contempt and to bear witness to the truth more so than with a belief that my voice will create change. I do so with a responsibility as a Jeffersonian Citizen, a protector of a tenuous democratic society. I would be ashamed to do anything less.
Onward to the issue of the day.
Yesterday, Congress stripped you of the right for your internet browsing to be private. Rejecting a regulation that said what, where and when you use the Internet is your business and nobody else’s, Congress chose instead that companies who already gouge you at a rate considerably higher than anywhere else in the world for their service, can buy and sell your individual browsing history. And this isn’t so the FBI, CIA or NSA might track you if you are suspected of a crime. No, this is for strictly commercial reasons. Your preferences are valuable data that has a market value, and not to be paid to you, but to your Internet Service Provider who may sell YOUR history to anyone willing to pay. In simple terms, it’s like the Public Library selling the list of books you’ve checked out. It’s what you thought was a safe place for you to explore being turned into a treasure trove of your likes and dislikes.
The same Congress who think the only reason for YOUR existence is to make them rich, seem to believe the only proper role of government is to advance the wealth of corrupt politicians and corporations rather than to clean the environment, provide health care, education, job safety, family planning, clean air, water, safe food, or celebrate our cultural heritage and anything else that does not advance their bottom line. This crowd has their head so far up their ideological ass they can’t detect the unctuous we do.
Privacy is not on the radar screen of this Congress.
Think about it! Anything you visit on the Internet will be sold to anyone who wants it. Do you like cats, cars, pornography, politics, cooking, travel, clothing
So what’s the big deal you say? Well, how about the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution that states
“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
And to be clear, if the second amendment, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed” means the government cannot take away your guns, the Fourth does the same for your privacy.
Is this still not getting though? Imagine you bought a car but as one of the conditions of buying the car the auto manufacturer could install a device to monitor every where you go and for how long, and then sell that information to anyone. Imagine that your cell phone carrier can do the same with your calling history.
The bought and paid for Congress is stuffing its pockets with payoffs while claiming the benefits of unfettered trade and better economic competition amongst smaller Internet service providers–A chance for the little guy! These guys think we’re stupid.
This is a shameful violation of the Constitution, those inconvenient rules that govern our country and protect us from abuses by our government. Remember why they wrote those rules? Remember King George? Remember tyranny?
No doubt this will eventually be ruled on by the Supreme Court but I don’t hold out much hope that the same great minds who declared corporations have the same rights as human citizens, will reverse the trend.
And if you’re of the mind that privacy doesn’t matter–some social theorists have even declared it obsolete and outdated as long as you’re not doing anything wrong–imagine for one minute that everything you say and do, every place you visit on the Internet, every call you make, everything you read, can be known by someone willing to pay for it. Imagine EVERY WEALTHY CORPORATION WHO WANTS YOUR MONEY KNOWING HOW AND WHAT YOU THINK. Imagine the government knowing EVERYTHING about you. This is yet one more step in solidifying and evolving a surveillance state where every thought, action and movement of its citizens is monitored, a state with no refuge for your curiosity, creativity or harmless quirks. In short a state modeled after the very horror we vilified when it was the Soviet KGB and East German Stasi monitoring all thoughts, words and deeds of hundreds of millions of citizens yearning for the refuge of privacy written into the Fourth Amendment of our United States Constitution.
And they call themselves patriots. Shame on them. Don’t be silent.
Call your congressional representative, call your Senators, call your friends!