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Big Brother? Obama Administration Seeking to Spy on Private Networks

September 3rd, 2009
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09.03.2009 original publish date
06.06.2013 updated broken PDF links, minor edits/ body title correction.

Big Brother? Obama Administration Seeking to Spy on Private Networks

original article written by Net Advisor

WASHINGTON DC. To have greater government control, one must control communication. In war, one of the first things one does is disable all communications. The purpose is to block the enemy from being able to communicate, move troops, fire missiles, and stay organized during combat.

In non war times, communist counties such as China and North Korea do the same to control what people are allowed to say and be aware of from outside of their country.

Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D) – W-VA reportedly spent months in a closed door session (what Obama transparency again) drafting Bill, S. 773; (SB773 – PDF) that would allow government to spy and control private computer networks over the Internet.

“The Secretary of Commerce shall have access to all relevant data concerning such networks without regard to any provision of law, regulation, rule, or policy restricting such access.”


— Source: Senate Bill 773 (51pps PDF), S. 773 Sec 14 (b)(1)

I am not exactly a legal scholar, but this language seems very clear and scary.

When you say, without regard to any provision of law, regulation, rule, policy, etc, what you are saying is:

  • that your individual Constitutional rights do not matter;
  • existing laws do not matter;
  • courts and judicial opinions do not matter;
  • government can unilaterally make future decisions;
  • government can except itself from any existing law, giving a small body the ability take over and gain access to any and all private networks (the Internet),

Big Brother’s Spy Game?

If this law if passed in its current form, the U.S. government would have the ability to spy without your knowledge or permission, and without any court order:

  • Gain access to your computer(s),
  • Gain access to your office computer(s),
  • Gain access to anything tied to the Internet they want to see that has ever been collected by someone including data from your phone company, your text messages, your video rentals, your credit or debit card purchases, your credit report, your spending habits, where you shop, where you buy gas and how much and how often, and they can do this all with REGARDLESS OF LAW.

Keep in mind that this provision of this bill would mean completely IGNORE or really acts to rip apart the 4th Amendment which states:

“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.”

— Source: United States Constitution, 4th Amendment, Ratified December 15, 1791

Shouldn’t a direct attack against the Constitution be headlines? Yes.
Is it headlines? No.
Is it a public interest story. Yes.
Are we going to publish it? No.
Why? Because it’s true.

Government Seeks Ability to Shut Down Internet
Language in the same Bill would allow the government total control over the Internet, including a total shutdown, preventing such communication traffic.

“The President…may declare a cybersecurity emergency and order the limitation or shutdown of Internet traffic…”

— Source: S. 773, Sec. 18 (2)

Now of course all of this is because the government knows what they are doing, they know what is best for you. All of this comes under very vague, and undefined “emergency powers.” What is interesting is that this Bill defines an unlimited and broader control BEYOND the Internet.

Under Section 23, Definitions of S. 773 states:

“The term ‘cyber’ means —

(A) any process, program, or protocol relating to the use of the Internet or an intranet, automatic data processing or transmission, or telecommunication via the Internet or an intranet; and

(B) any matter relating to, or involving the use of, computers or computer networks.”

“Part (B) above, does not say, “And” it says “OR” meaning either, but does not require both to be true. So what does this mean? Other than in-person communication, is there anything that we use that is NOT computer operated? Cable, TV, cell phones, and satellites, all use computers, thus an argument could be made to incorporate government control over such devices including the ability to shut them down. Will they? Hopefully not, but in an extreme situation, giving the government the legal authority to control all domestic public and private communication is a dangerous power.

The argument for the whole Cyber Security Act of 2009 (S. 773) is to protect attacks from “foreign” sources on the US’s Internet traffic. Good luck!

Aside from a research study that suggests hackers attack every 39 seconds, why doesn’t the government just secure its military and own networks better? Why does the government need to monitor (spy) domestically via the Internet, needs control over citizen communications, and why does it need to shut it down? Can you imagine shutting down every network in the USA all at the same time? Can you reboot the whole thing just as easily?

The government claims that this would only be for emergency proposes, and would not shut down or take over the Internet. The government also states that this would be more likely used in times of war.

But the facts of the bill as cited hereto and herein gives that exact power to the President to “monitor” (spy) [Section 11. (M)] on private networks at any time, ‘regardless of law.’

Remember it does not matter what the political sound bites are; or what “intent” the government has. What really matters is what the exact language of the law says, and in this case, does this law violate the 4th Amendment?

And if this law is supposedly to only be used in emergencies such as in a time of war, the question is, when has the USA NOT been at war somewhere?

Finally, another big question is: Shall Americans sacrifice all personal privacy so the government can protect us?

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short link to this article: http://www.netadvisor.org/?p=6424

Senate Bill
S. 773 111th Congress 1st Session (PDF)
S. 773 111th Congress 2nd Session (PDF)

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