The Obama Administration — with the clear support of Democratic and Republic leadership — has continued to eviscerate privacy in the United States despite recent controversies over NSA spying on Americans. The most recent report details how the National Security Agency is collecting hundreds of millions of contact lists from personal e-mail and instant messaging accounts, including those of Americans. The reported collection program is a new operation that intercepts e-mail address books and “buddy lists” from instant messaging services. It is the latest effort by the Obama Administration to turn this into a fishbowl society where citizens and their associations are entirely transparent to the government. Once again, the most amazing aspect of this story is the complete lack of response or outcry. President Obama has succeeded, it seems, in changing the expectations of privacy in our society — a change that is unlikely to be reversed to the great detriment of civil liberties in America. It is the latest example of why it is increasingly curious for Americans to refer to this country as “the land of the free” as we construct a massive internal security state and unchecked executive powers.
The report states that the NSA is gathering contact lists in large numbers that amount to a sizable fraction of the world’s e-mail and instant messaging accounts. In single day last year, the NSA’s Special Source Operations branch has reportedly collected 444,743 e-mail address books from Yahoo, 105,068 from Hotmail, 82,857 from Facebook, 33,697 from Gmail and 22,881 from unspecified other providers. This includes a daily collection of an estimated 500,000 buddy lists on live-chat services as well as from the “in-box” displays of Web-based e-mail accounts. That would translate to a staggering collection rate of more than 250 million per year.
These programs are creating a government databank system that allows the government to observe and track virtually every contract and association of a person’s life. It is the total awareness system that we thought we had killed under Bush. Of course, it is now Barack Obama creating this security state so Democrats are not just silent but supportive of the effort. He will of course leave office at some point and leave this security system as his legacy. He will be able to claim (if he was willing to admit it) that he left this country less free than he found it. And Democrats will have secured a place of unrivaled hypocrisy if they try to later oppose the same powers in a Republican president.
Source: Washington Post