Archive for the ‘Civil Liberties’ Category

Every day, without even knowing it, you share intimate personal details about your life with people you’ve never met!

Posted By Levi

April 29th, 2013 7:58pm

Category: Civil Liberties

Tags:

In the past, I have expressed concern over the gradual loss of our privacy as both the government and private businesses collect enormous amounts of information about our everyday activities. Once we were appalled at the way in which communist and authoritarian leaders monitored the movements of their citizens and boasted we would never become like them. However, over the past few years we have seen a steady erosion of some of our basic civil liberties. See here and here. A few days ago, Jeff Saginor, writing in the American Prospect, examines how private companies are collecting our personal data and making big bucks from it. “Every day, without even knowing it, you share intimate personal details about your life with people you’ve never met. The medical symptoms you search online follow you: first to the pharmacy where you pick up a prescription, then to a database of specialists looking to add you as a patient, or to an insurance company creating a risk pool. The car you’ve r Read More

The Real Reason You Should Care About the Petraeus Affair: Privacy

Posted By Levi

November 15th, 2012 7:04pm

Category: Civil Liberties

In my previous post I expressed concern about privacy issues in the Petraeus Affair. Today, Adam Serwer of Mother Jones Magazine fills us in with some very important information. The Fourth Amendment protects us from unreasonable searches and seizures from law enforcement agencies.  If the police wants to search your property, in most cases, they have to get a warrant. Not so with your on-line activities. “It is easy for federal authorities to get access to your online activities. If you think the feds need a warrant to start looking at your email, you’re dead wrong. The Electronic Communications Privacy Act, the law governing online communications, was written in 1986. Congress wasn’t sure whether to treat email, then in its infancy, more like letters or phone calls. People used to download their email back then, so leaving your information on a company’s server meant the feds had to do less paperwork to access it. Now everyone’s information is stored online Read More

The Surveillance State Begins To Eat Its Own.

Posted By Levi

November 13th, 2012 7:35pm

Category: Civil Liberties

Over the past few days the nation has been gripped by a sex scandal involving the head of the CIA, General David Petreaus, which led to his resignation. Quite frankly, I am not interested in the lurid details of the story. The people involved are all consenting adults and what they do with their private lives should be their own business. As far as I am aware, no crimes were committed and what they did was not illegal. My concern is with the massive surveillance state that the United States has become since 911 and the privacy issues it raised for all of us. See here and here. Since 911, whenever those concerned with the erosion of our privacy and 4th Amendment rights raised the issue we are often told, “If you are not doing anything wrong, then you have nothing to hide.”  The Petreaus affair is your answer  The events that led to his downfall, and perhaps others to come, should now give us pause for concern. You don’t have to be doing anything wrong to be caught into this mas Read More

Police Using Your Cell Phone to Spy on You.

Posted By Levi

July 26th, 2012 11:17am

Category: Civil Liberties

Since 911, our rights to privacy under the Fourth Amendment have gone to the dogs. According to the NY Times cellphone carriers reported that they responded to a startling 1.3 million demands for subscriber information last year from law enforcement agencies seeking text messages, caller locations and other information in the course of investigations. According to the paper, the volume of the requests reported by the carriers — which most likely involve several million subscribers — surprised even some officials who have closely followed the growth of cell surveillance. Many of these requests did  not even involve the use of a warrant as required under the 4th Amendment. In a related story, the Times had this: “THE device in your purse or jeans that you think is a cellphone — guess again. It is a tracking device that happens to make calls. Let’s stop calling them phones. They are trackers.  Most doubts about the principal function of these devices were erased when it was Read More

What is happening to Our Civil Liberties?

Posted By Levi

January 17th, 2012 8:26pm

Category: Civil Liberties

Sometime ago I commented on the steady erosion of our civil liberties., particularly the 4th Amendment which protects us from illegal searches and seizures. Law professor, Johnathan Turley, writing in the Washington Post, picks up on this theme. He examines how civil liberties, since 911, have been under assualt both by the Bush and Obama administrations. More frightening, though, Professor Turley looks at ten areas in which he sees signs that call into question the very idea of America being a free country. He writes: Even as we pass judgment on countries we consider unfree, Americans remain confident that any definition of a free nation must include their own — the land of free. Yet, the laws and practices of the land should shake that confidence. In the decade since Sept. 11, 2001, this country has comprehensively reduced civil liberties in the name of an expanded security state. The most recent example of this was the National Defense Authorization Act, signed Dec. 31, wh Read More

The Steady Erosion of Our Fourth Amendment Rights

Posted By Levi

September 15th, 2011 6:32pm

Category: Civil Liberties

In a previous post, I pointed to one of the consequences of the terrorist attack on 911; the enormous amount of money the country has spent since on homeland security, some of it on dubious projects. I would like to point out another consequence – the steady erosion of our Fourth Amendment rights.  The 4th Amendment protects Americans from illegal searches and seizures by government authorities. It says “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” In the immediate aftermath of 911, we were willing to sacrifice some of our civil liberties to deal with terrorism. Congress passed the Patriot Act which severely curtailed some of our most  basic rights. While I understand the need for h Read More

In Defense of Freedom of Worship

Posted By Levi

July 22nd, 2011 8:31am

Category: Civil Liberties

As a follow up to my last post on Muslim bashing, some of you may recall a speech given by New York City mayor, Michael Bloomberg, in August of last year.  It was a passionate speech defending freedom of religion and the importance of separation of church and state. The speech was in response to the uproar created by the decision of the Muslim community in New York City to build a community center near Ground Zero. I just reread the speech and is even more convinced that it is one of the most powerful speeches in recent times defending the right of people to worship. For this reason, I am posting the speech in its entirety. I believe everyone should read it. If you haven’t read it, please do and if you already did, read it again. It’s that good. Text of speech: “We’ve come here to Governors Island to stand where the earliest settlers first set foot in New Amsterdam, and where the seeds of religious tolerance were first planted. We come here to see the inspiring sym Read More