Our View: Constant surveillance

Friday , August 24, 2012 - 3:57 PM

Editorial Board

In a New York Times column, Shane Harris, author of the book, "The Watchers: The Rise of America’s Surveillance State," provides a valuable look at the chilling increase of government surveillance of its citizens. Americans need a wake up call on big-government snooping. It’s gone way too far the past decade and needs to be curtailed before Orwellian "snoop patrols" randomly seeking information on all of us become the norm.

The National Security Agency has created replicas of data-gathering tools used by AT&T to gather data over the IT infrastructure. It’s a huge dumping pile of data fed to the feds. Harris writes in the column: "Today, this global surveillance system continues to grow. It now collects so much digital detritus — emails, calls, text messages, cellphone location data and a catalog of computer viruses — that the N.S.A. is building a 1-million-square-foot facility in the Utah desert to store and process it."

That’s one way to bring jobs to Utah, but frankly we’re not proud of being a clearinghouse for invasive, government-approved snoops.

As Harris points out, in 2003, when the feds set up this surveillance monster, they failed to provide safeguards to protect the identity of persons’ whose communication is gathered and they did not set up a process to determine if innocent Americans are being tracked. Revising the 2003 rules of the NSA snooping to make sure that court ordersare required to link information to an individual, as well as audit logs to protect innocent communications from being gathered, are steps that should be done now.

But even those reforms are not enough to wipe away the stain of constant surveillance that grips this war-weary nation. More people need to speak out against this vast and growing gathering of our emails, texts and other IT data.

Our pols don’t seem to have the guts to speak out, so let your Congress members know that the Big Snoop needs to be cut in size.

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