Monday, November 18, 2013

Why Does the Federal Government Care What You Are Reading?

Big Brother is watching ...
What were the most recent books you took out of a library? Were they, by any chance, How to Build a Bomb That Will Destroy a Large White Building in Washington, DC? Or, perhaps, Death to America? Or did you simply want to refresh your memory of Howard Zinn's classic, A People's History of the United States?

The American Library Association, the American Booksellers Association, the Association of American Publishers, and PEN American Center have all endorsed a bill, the Freedom Act, that will restore Americans' right to read and say what they like - unmonitored.

Privacy is among our most cherished civil rights - and for good reason. If somebody, somewhere in the bowels of wherever the Patriot Act allows drones to monitor what we read, decides that Howard Zinn or Noam Chomsky is a terrorist, then you may suffer the consequences, simply by having taken home one of their books.

Of course, the argument in favor of monitoring citizens is that citizens must give up a certain amount of freedom in order to have security. The fears of Americans after 911 made this perspective seem reasonable.

What people tend to forget is that the federal government's (or any institution's) idea of security may have more to do with its own self-preservation than yours. The abandonment of freedom of the press in America in the wake of the Jacobin threat (The Sedition Act), stimulated, not a crack-down on sympathizers of the French Revolution, but on political opponents of the Federalist government.

Historically, it has always been the case that whenever civil liberties are revoked, the purpose is not to safeguard the rights of citizens, but to extend the reach of whoever happens to be in power.

This article appeared a few days ago in Publisher's Weekly. Give it a read. And send a quick thank you note to Senator Patrick Leahy and Representative James Sensenbrenner for standing up to Big Brother. George Orwell would appreciate it.
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Book Groups Back Bill to Restore Privacy Protections

Publisher's Weekly, Nov 14, 2013

Spurred by revelations of how the National Security Agency is collecting information on citizens, the Campaign for Reader Privacy has issued a statement calling for Congress to pass the USA Freedom Act. CRP, a joint initiative of the American Booksellers Association, the American Library Association, the Association of American Publishers, and PEN American Center, said passage of the bill will restore privacy protections that were eliminated by the Patriot Act.

The Freedom Act (S. 1599/H.R. 3361) was introduced on October 29 by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) in response to the news that the National Security Agency is using Section 215 of the Patriot Act to collect records of the telephone calls made by Americans without regard to whether they are suspected of involvement in terrorism. Section 215 eliminated the requirement that the government show evidence of “individualized suspicion” before it can conduct a search in a terrorism investigation.

Since 2004, CPR has warned that Section 215 could be used to obtain the records of innocent Americans, including records of the books they purchase from bookstores or borrow from libraries. Supporters of the Patriot Act, including Rep. Sensenbrenner, argued that it would be used only to investigate someone suspected of terrorism. The revelations of former NSA contractor Edward J. Snowden, however, convinced Sensenbrenner and others that additional safeguards are needed to protect privacy. The Freedom Act would limit government searches to the records of people who are suspected terrorists and their associates.

Read the rest of this important article HERE.

1 comment:

  1. George Orwell was a socialist. I thought you should know. People have been misinterpreting 1984 as a pro-democracy tract for decades.

    ReplyDelete

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