November 15, 2002

'What did you think you were voting for?'*
"If the Homeland Security Act is not amended before passage, here is what will happen to you: Every purchase you make with a credit card, every magazine subscription you buy and medical prescription you fill, every Web site you visit and e-mail you send or receive, every academic grade you receive, every bank deposit you make, every trip you book and every event you attend - all these transactions and communications will go into what the Defense Department describes as 'a virtual, centralized grand database.' To this computerized dossier on your private life from commercial sources, add every piece of information that government has about you - passport application, driver's license and bridge toll records, judicial and divorce records, complaints from nosy neighbors to the F.B.I., your lifetime paper trail plus the latest hidden camera surveillance - and you have the supersnoop's dream: a 'Total Information Awareness' about every U.S. citizen." - William Safire, in the NY Times.

*Jon Stewart, on The Daily Show

And in a related story: "With the pretext of protecting citizens against terrorism, US legislators are happily throwing personal freedoms out the window. The Cyber Security Enhancement Act slipped into the Homeland Security bill at the last moment allows police to conduct Internet or telephone eavesdropping willy-nilly with no requirement to ask a court's permission first. The Act demands life sentences for hackers that 'recklessly' endanger lives...and allows Net surveillance to gather telephone numbers, IP addresses, and URLs or e-mail information, where an 'immediate threat to a national security interest' is suspected.* ISPs will also be permitted to hand users' records over to law enforcement authorities, overturning current legislation that outlaws such behaviour." - The Inquirer, with thanks to

*Suspected by John 'Crisco' Ashcroft, who thinks calico cats bear the marks of Satan.

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