If you have a telephone, bank account, blog or page on a social network such as Myspace then you should expect the US government to take a peak at your info some time soon. But don’t worry! Loss of privacy is the cost of staying safe in these dangerous times. We need to give up our liberties to protect our freedom, right?!
You can read a previous post about US wiretapping here.
“But I don’t live in the US so why do I care?” Even though the telephone spying was directed at US citizens, the governments main focus was international phone calls.
The recent New York Times article ‘Bank Data Is Sifted by U.S. in Secret to Block Terror‘ has been all over the news lately. In this peice the newspaper covers how the US government is going through thousands of bank accounts of US citizens. Apparently, the newspaper has revealed a “public secret” that the United States Government, specifically the Treasury Department and the CIA, accessed the SWIFT database after the September 11th attacks. Of course, as soon as the administration is revealed to be doing something unlawful it imediately goes into attack mode. The New York time has come under fire because it apparently revealed this top secret program and is therefore helping the badguys. This point becomes slightly mute when you take into account that the New York Times only revealed that which was public knowledge. President Bush has publicly stated “if [financial institutions] fail to help us by sharing information or freezing accounts, the Department of the Treasury now has the authority to freeze their bank’s assets and transactions in the United States”. But there have even been discussions on whether The New York Times should be prosecuted for its actions.
“But I don’t live in the US so why do I care?” The National Bank of Belgium, was revealed on June 27, 2006, to have known about the US government’s access to the SWIFT databases since 2002. Belgian political party CD&V claimed on June 28, that the actions of the CIA with SWIFT were in breach with Belgian privacy laws. The Belgian parliamentary committee (Comité I), that deals with the workings of the Belgian State Security Service, will report on its findings in three weeks. How many other countries laws have been breached?
From an official Department of Defense news release titled ‘Blogs Study May Provide Credible Information‘:
The Air Force Office of Scientific Research recently began funding a new research area that includes a study of blogs. Blog research may provide information analysts and warfighters with invaluable help in fighting the war on terrorism.
Dr. Brian E. Ulicny, senior scientist, and Dr. Mieczyslaw M. Kokar, president, Versatile Information Systems Inc., Framingham, Mass., will receive approximately $450,000 in funding for the 3-year project entitled “Automated Ontologically-Based Link Analysis of International Web Logs for the Timely Discovery of Relevant and Credible Information.”
“It can be challenging for information analysts to tell what’s important in blogs unless you analyze patterns,” Ulicny said.
From a recent New Scientist article titled ‘Pentagon sets its sights on social networking websites‘:
“New Scientist has discovered that Pentagon’s National Security Agency, which specialises in eavesdropping and code-breaking, is funding research into the mass harvesting of the information that people post about themselves on social networks. And it could harness advances in internet technology – specifically the forthcoming “semantic web” championed by the web standards organisation W3C – to combine data from social networking websites with details such as banking, retail and property records, allowing the NSA to build extensive, all-embracing personal profiles of individuals.”
“But I don’t live in the US so why do I care?” Well, blogs and social networks are on the internet so there aren’t any real restrictions on the US government here.
I’m just happy to know that our freedom is being protected. Sweet Dreams!