The Big Brother


I was shocked to learn from the media today that the U.S. Government run by the Democratic Party is trying to provide the FBI with enhanced powers to snoop on U.S. citizens !

Well, whether this is true or not, in practice everyone knows that the FBI and the CIA have the technology and powers (whether given to them or not) to spy on anyone on this planet. We see evidence of such activities all the time, especially in “enemy” countries, hostile to the U.S. However, it is very difficult to believe that a Democratic President could do this, invading the privacy of millions of citizens – it would not be that surprising if a Republican President had authorized spying of email communications of the average Joe, since the Republican Presidents have always believed in “pre-emptive” and “proactive” actions to safeguard the U.S. from “enemies” whether they exist or not. But for a Democratic President to do that, sacrificing democratic ideals, is just unbelievable. This again shows that President Obama comes from the same mould of “deterministic” and “cold” Presidents, who do not care about public opinion or perceptions.

It is very critical to first obtain a warrant from a Judge before the FBI can access email communication records of U.S. citizens. If this is not going to be the case, then the U.S. will be sliding into a nation comparable to Communist Dictatorships who do not honour Judges’ opinions or orders anyway – Judges there form a “part” of the Government !

Is this a good thing for the safety of the U.S. citizens ? Surely not. The unnecessary intrusion into the privacy and life of an average citizen is more likely to be misused by the Government rather than being able to determine “enemies within” the borders or elsewhere. Any modification of an existing law will embed these overarching powers granted to the FBI and take it to those days when the FBI played a destructive role, having enormous amounts of data to be in a position to even blackmail a President. This should immediately be stopped by the Congress.

The main worry is the tendency of other major Democracies, such as India, to emulate what the U.S. does in such law enactments. That would lead to miserable conditions for India’s citizens, whose march into the Cyber World would be halted on its tracks if they figured out that the Government is after every bit of their online activities. While any Government is going to find it very difficult to follow what a citizen does online all the time, it might be possible to carry out snooping on racially profiled citizens. This again is a very destructive tool in the hands of a corrupted mind.

In a nutshell, the idea of trying to seek a permanent, non-supervised electronic access to citizens is a very bad one, taking any country to the Communist era. Let us take a leaf from the European Democracies which have taken a firm stand on sharing of data on their citizens even for law enforcement or financial purposes unless the request is backed very strongly by a Court of Law.

President Obama needs to watch his steps here.

Cheers,

Vijay Srinivasan
31st July 2010
Mumbai

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