Legislation

A circuit court judge in Virginia ordered the release on August 23 of Brandon J. Raub, a Chesterfield man held involuntarily as a psychiatric patient at the Salem Veterans Affairs hospital in Virginia over anti-government postings on his Facebook page.

 Hundreds of activists showed up at a hearing about so-called “smart meters” held by the Texas Public Utility Commission this week, with most of them seeking a way to opt-out from receiving one of the controversial electricity meters that critics link to serious privacy and health concerns. A Republican member of the state legislature even promised that if the PUC refused to allow consumers a choice, he would introduce legislation to force its hand. 

 As the size and sponsorship of the global surveillance network TrapWire continues to be revealed, the hacktivists of Anonymous are calling on those alarmed by the multinational monitoring apparatus to unite August 18 in concerted opposition. “As we learn about TrapWire and similar systems in the surveillance industry, it becomes more apparent that we must, at all costs, shut this system down and render it useless,” spokesmen for Anonymous wrote in a press release. Despite the purported power of the surveillance system, Anonymous recommends opponents protest peacefully.

 With the rise of the drones comes the rise of several critical questions of Constitutionality of their potential uses. One of the most crucial of those inquiries concerns the application of the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition against “unlawful searches and seizures” and the requirement that warrants be supported by affidavits “particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

The ever-expanding use of drones and the frightening possibilities thereof are only exacerbated by statements from insiders telling citizens that they have nothing to worry about. At a recent convention of drone manufacturers, the acting administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said that his department is working tirelessly to “fully integrate” drones into the wider world of civil aviation. This synthesis, Michael Huerta, insists, should be accomplished within three years and will bring with it great strides in the federal government’s commitment to guard our nation from threats to our security.

 The U.S. government exercises control over a massive and technologically advanced surveillance system that has the capacity to keep nearly the entire population of this country under the watchful eye of government 24 hours a day.

TrapWire is the name of this newly revealed network of cameras and other surveillance tools being utilized by a federal government that is rapidly constructing an impenetrable, inescapable theater of surveillance, most of which is going unnoticed by Americans and unreported by the mainstream media.

 Freedom advocates breathed sigh of relief when a coalition of Senate Republicans and a few Democrats opposed the Cybersecurity Act of 2012 (S. 3414). Unfortunately, the recent setback of the Cybersecurity Act of 2012 has all the earmarks a false sense of security. The timing has created a false impression that Internet regulation legislation has failed for this session of Congress, but the 112th Congress is virtually certain to convene a lame duck session after the election.

Although Senate Republicans rejected cybersecurity legislation last week, President Obama may yet rule on the issue, once again bypassing the legislative branch and the separation of powers set out in the Constitution.  According to a report in The Hill, President Obama is mulling the issuing of an executive order to create “law” where Congress failed to do so.

As the international effort to deploy so-called “smart meters” to monitor electricity usage marches on, resistance to the controversial devices is increasing around the world as well. Proponents claim the schemes could save money and reduce energy use. Opponents from across the political spectrum, however, worry that the smart meters might not be just a stupid idea and a waste of money — they could actually be dangerous in more ways than one.

 

As the technology facilitating the expansion of the surveillance state becomes more advanced, the need for proximity to the target of the surveillance diminishes. For example, the ability to keep drones perpetually airborne is being engineered thanks to multi-million dollar research and development grants offered by the Pentagon to companies on the edge of technological advancement.

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