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Casualties of War

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Here's an interesting quote from an old article carried by Network World. The article is titled "Lawmakers Promise Action Against Phone Record Sales" by Grant Gross (IDG News Service, 02/01/06)
Lawmakers, spurred on by recent media reports on phone log sales, raised concerns about stalkers buying phone records of their victims or criminals buying call logs of an undercover police officer.
"Our e-mail is clogged with spam," said committe [sic] chairman Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas). "Our computers are covertly monitored with spyware. Our personal information is bought and sold by information brokers. And now we learn that a phone number and one hundred dollars can buy you a month's worth of call information for just about anyone.
"These are very personal and private records of who we call, when we call and how long we spend on the telephone call," Barton added. "This is an invasion into our personal privacy and, if I have anything to do with it, will not be allowed to continue for very much longer."
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan called the unauthorized sale of telephone records "privacy theft," and Steve Largent, president and CEO of the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association (CTIA), said such sales give the telecom industry a "black eye."
"An invasion into our personal privacy," "privacy theft," and "such sales give the telecom industry a 'black eye.'"--all are remarks indicating that lawmakers, law enforcement agents, and telecom industry execs view unauthorized access to personal call logs as an infringement of our privacy rights. But now we're being told by government officials that government agents are doing this exact same thing to us. It's ok, though, because this time it's done in the name of national security. Let me point out that an infringement of our right to privacy is made no less abusive if its perpetrated by members of our government. If anything, their actions should be viewed as an even greater infringement.
Why? Look at it this way. If a company purchases your call records, you can be reasonably sure that it wants this information to better position itself to bring you a product or service. They're trying to get a better idea of the marketplace in which they operate. Is their tactics devious or underhanded? Some would say so. I tend to agree, too. Further, if individuals purchase your call records to see who you've been talking to, you have certain avenues to prevent or otherwise stop them from continuing. Private individuals or companies don't have the ability to compel you to comply with their demands. You are free to walk away if you want.
Here's the major difference between the above examples and government entities: Governments provide their services at gunpoint. If you choose not to cooperate with them, they have the option to use force to make you comply. The amount of force they choose to use is entirely up to them. They can even depriving you of all your freedoms by locking you up. Do you now see the difference? Do you now understand why it is so important that we stand on our rights and principles? We need to tell government to back off. We need to tell government to respect our rights and liberties. Why should we be made casualties of this war on terror by our defenders?


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