Imagine that the U.S. government had the power to scour the reams of public records and collect and collate every bit of personal information about every citizen of this country. Now imagine that any of the various intelligence and security agencies within the government could combine that data with any other information about a person that has been posted to a social media website or compiled by one of the many data aggregating companies that keep tabs on all of us. Finally, imagine that all this data could be passed among these agencies and that the ability of anyone inside or outside the government to challenge this surveillance was all but eliminated.
Sadly, this is not the description of some fictitious dystopian future; this is the factual description of present-day America and it’s about to get much worse.
In March Attorney General Eric Holder, in cooperation with National Counterterrorism Center head Matthew Olsen and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, significantly accelerated this move toward abolishing privacy by approving a new list of guidelines for how long U.S. government agencies tasked with combating international and domestic “terrorism” may retain the data they collect and store. Basically, this information may be saved even if it contains no connection to criminal activity whatsoever.
According to the new regulations, the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) (headquartered at the Liberty Crossing complex in McLean, Virginia) can store and “continually assess” this information “for a period of up to five years.” Before the promulgation of these new guidelines, the NCTC was under instructions to destroy “promptly” (typically defined to mean within 180 days) this cache of material gathered from U.S. citizens if there was nothing related to terrorism found in it.
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