Legislation

In a move that should surprise no one aware of the increasing size, scope, and sophistication of the U.S. surveillance state, the House of Representatives voted to approve a five-year extension of the snooping scheme created by George W. Bush in the wake of the attacks of September 11, 2001.

The White House is currently drafting an executive order giving the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) power to establish standards of cybersecurity purportedly protecting the “U.S. power grid from electronic attacks.”

BusinessWeek describes the new program as a “a council that would work with the National Institute of Standards and Technology to establish the cybersecurity standards.”

 In announcing the global war on terrorism in his speech to a joint session of Congress on September 20, 2001, President George W. Bush put the world on notice: "Every nation in every region now has a decision to make: Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists." After Congress passed the PATRIOT Act, Attorney General John Ashcroft was dismissive, even contemptuous, of concerns being raised over civil liberties violations, describing those complaints as "fear mongering." To "those who scare peace-loving people with phantoms of lost liberty," Ashcroft delivered the following message:

 In a document filed September 4 in the D.C. District Court, the Obama administration argues that there is no “reasonable expectation of privacy” in a person’s cellphone GPS data. The president’s lawyers insist they do not need a warrant to request cellphone company records regarding a customer’s movements and location as tracked by their signal towers.

Every time a shutter blinks in one of the millions of cameras mounted on stoplights or building corners, the faces of those within the sight of the lens are instantly recorded and saved to a database kept somewhere for use by someone for some purpose.

 As TrapWire searches out and scrubs all references in the mainstream media to its global surveillance system, new connections between it and other tracking technologies are being uncovered.

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.”

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