Privacy: December 2007 Archives


birdseye-cutout.jpgPass the Freedom Fries!  The French are still filmed, monitored and intercepted less than we are, but barely. Their status also "deteriorated" in 2007.

The U.S. has been downgraded from "Extensive Surveillance Society" to "Endemic Surveillance Society," according to Privacy International's 2007 International Privacy Ranking released on Friday. We now share the "Endemic" distinction with China, Russia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Taiwan, and the UK. I should have expected the following, really, after recently letting go of my email privacy delusions:

In terms of statutory protections and privacy enforcement, the US is the worst ranking country in the democratic world. In terms of overall privacy protection the United States has performed very poorly, being out-ranked by both India and the Philippines.
It's worth noting that Canadian and EU papers have reported on this, but I have yet to find coverage in a U.S. newspaper. It's up to you and me to let our friends and family and presidential candidates know that we rank at the bottom when it comes to:
664px-Centennial_Bell_in_the_Independence_Hall_Belfry,_Philadelphia_-_Engraving_from_1876.jpgWhat is the greatest terrorist threat to the United States? It depends on the audience -- and what aspects of privacy you want it to give up.

If you're trying to convince Europeans to create an international fingerprint and personal-data screening database, it's international. If you want to persuade a domestic audience to nationally standardize drivers licenses, it's domestic.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said this two weeks ago when addressing a European audience about the ways they would need to give up their anonymity when traveling to the United States:

The United States faces a lower risk of homegrown terrorism than Europe and should concentrate efforts on developing a global system of anti-terrorist screening at airports and borders, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said Thursday.

When asked whether the United States considered a homegrown attack likely — the prevailing pattern in Britain, where legally-residing extremists have plotted or committed a string of attacks since 2005 — Chertoff said America needed to make screening of international travelers its most logical priority.

"We have less of a problem with homegrown terrorism than in Europe. That's not to say we don't have a problem," he said, noting arrests in May of six foreign-born U.S. residents on suspicion of plotting to attack the Fort Dix army base.

"So I don't mean to suggest that the exclusive remedy is preventing bad people from getting into the United States ... but that is the point of their greatest vulnerability," he said.

Now Reuters reports in a story entitled U.S. Says Homegrown Attack Poses Biggest Risk:

The United States faces a heightened threat of terrorist attack "for the foreseeable future" but any attack will likely be homegrown, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said on Wednesday...

"There's probably a greater risk in terms of likelihood from a homegrown attack than from a massive international attack," he added.

Chertoff described that sort of "homegrown" attack as a single person or small group of people living in the United States who were "recruited" on the Internet and had pledged allegiance to al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden.


So, what's going on? Why the different assessments? Could Chertoff's domestic rhetoric have anything to do with the likely soon-to-be-debated Homegrown Terrorism Bill?

~~
Allentown.gifEarly this morning I received what seems like a thoughtful form letter response from Senator Tester to my email about the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act.

To say I don't see the necessity of this bill at all is an understatement. But he clearly isn't dismissing it entirely. His reply primarily focused on my surveillance concerns. Since it sounds like he will fight for a less frightening version I will write again with an emphasis on the vague definition of "force," and the dangers of defining ideologically based violence, integrating comments from Bill and the anonymous commenter here.

What do you think? What are your Senators saying? What next?

Dear Kyeann:

Thank you for taking the time to contact me about S. 1959, the Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007. I have serious privacy concerns about this bill and appreciate your input, as it is a critical part of making sure the laws we pass in the Senate reflect the priorities we share as Montanans.

The stated goal of the Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act is to prevent terrorism by individuals born, raised, or based and operating primarily in the United States. Ideally, this bill would protect our civil rights and liberties while helping the Department of Homeland Security work to protect us against ideologically-based violence by these homegrown terrorists.


montecello.jpgNow is an essential time to let your Senators know (here are their contact forms) that they don't have to pass another frightening bill to seem tough on terror. If you haven't heard about the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act, please see the links at the bottom of this post to understand how it could further curtail our freedoms and criminalize dissent. It's already passed in the House!

None of us wants to see more horrific acts of violence. On the other hand, we don't want to waste our time with redundant measures that likely won't prevent them, but will threaten the First Amendment.

I sent this to Sens. Tester and Baucus today. Adapt it as you wish!

Dear Senator Baucus,

I am gravely concerned about S 1959, the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act. I am troubled by the overly vague language and worried that in practice it will criminalize non-violent forms of dissent and stifle freedom of speech.

S 1959 has the potential to be used to target citizens who disagree with whichever administration is currently in power or who oppose powerful corporate interests. Most of the "home grown" terror we have seen has originated from white, Christian anti-abortionists. However, we know from the FOIA documents released so far that most of those targeted for surveillance by the current administration have been anti-war activists. Additionally, we have seen concerted efforts to label property destroying/anti-development extremists "terrorists" and tie mainstream environmental groups to them.

Surveillance is endemic in our society -- we have been labeled one of the world's top surveillance societies by Privacy International. Do we need to set up another commission to decide who to watch?

I look forward to hearing your position on this bill.

Thank you,


CNET
Huffington Post
NYC Indypendent 

~~

Six Hours A Week Is:

A coping strategy, advocacy outlet, and form of protection. My life has been nearly destroyed by the unconstitutional practices of politically/socially-motivated private intelligence contractors and the corruption and cronyism that allow them. Apparently because I speak out in ways that prioritize the little guy and human and environmental health above gargantuan profit margins, and believe that facts are as important as PR spin, I was someone who had to be completely discredited. In 2007, after a few months of a surreal and relentless invasion of privacy and dignity, I started to spend six hours each week researching, communicating about, and advocating legal and ethical responses to assaults on our shared democratic and republican ideals. For most of that time I was writing from the perspective of someone whose life was manipulated into a constant state of terror and emergency. In 2010, many of the array of entrapment attempts seem to have failed and it seems no longer possible to get away with such excessive, obvious harassment and overt interference. As we take more practical steps to address what has been allowed to happen to my family, we do expect to see some more harassment and intimidation. But I should be able to chronicle it from a more measured perspective, rather than that of someone in constant fear. Part of me would like to go back and delete earlier posts, because even I find them hard to relate to in some ways. But this blog has been one of our only forms of protection as everyone in any official capacity ignored the truth and tried to spin and frame us into the troublemakers and perpetrators of one form or another. So I leave it up as a form of protection, a record of what has occurred, and (with luck) the account of our way back to credibility and some form of legitimate justice. All content on this site is property of Kyeann Sayer. All rights reserved.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Privacy category from December 2007.

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