Letters to the Editor

Week of January 1, 2003

Denis Tessier Jr.
Newmarket, N.H.

Poindexter's no hero to me: I resent the implication that Poindexter has "long [been] a hero to Republicans" for staying out of prison on a technicality. A hero to Ollie North, maybe, but not me.

Many people like myself vote for the GOP and also strongly support maintaining privacy and personal freedoms. Note the farewell speech of retiring Republican Rep. Dick Armey, who spoke on the theme of protecting and preserving our rights, including privacy. Stereotyping is wrong, no matter to whom it is done.

Eric Anderson
Ankeny, Iowa

Watch out, sniveling liberal:Re: hassling Poindexter by libs (commies), looks like a photo of Smith's house, kids, dogs, phone number, background check, credit report, etc. will go on our site. We'll send you the link.

Daytona Beach, Fla.

Pure propaganda: I thought your readers might be interested in the following quote from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency [darpa.mil]: "The goal of the Total Information Awareness (TIA) program is to revolutionize the ability of the United States to detect, classify and identify foreign terrorists -- and decipher their plans -- and thereby enable the U.S. to take timely action to successfully preempt and defeat terrorist acts."

What a load of bull. Ask the security services in the U.S., U.K., Indonesia (Bali), or anywhere for that matter, to deny this:

Internet surveillance, using Echelon, Carnivore, or back doors in encryption, will not stop terrorists communicating by other means -- most especially face to face or personal courier. Terrorists will have to do that, or they will be caught. Perhaps they could use a mobile phone when absolutely essential, saying, "Meet you in the pub Monday" (meaning, human bomb to Target A), or Tuesday (Target B), or Sunday (abort).

The Internet has become a tool for government to snoop on their people, 24/7. The terrorism argument is a dummy. Internet surveillance will not stop terrorists -- that's spin and propaganda.

This propaganda is for several reasons, including: a) making you feel safer, b) to say the government is doing something, and c) the more malicious motive of privacy invasion. Of surveillance, governments say, "You've nothing to fear -- if you are not breaking the law." This argument is made to pressure people into acquiescence, otherwise they appear guilty of hiding something illegal. It does not address the real reason why governments want this information (which they will deny) -- they want a surveillance society.

They wish to invade your basic human right to privacy. This is like having somebody watching everything you do: All your personal thoughts, hopes, and fears will be open to them.

This means everything -- including phone calls and interactive TV. Here's a quote from ZDNET [zdnet.com]: "Whether you're just accessing a Web site, placing a phone call, watching TV or developing a Web service, sometime in the not too distant future, virtually all such transactions will converge around Internet protocols."

"Why should I worry? I do not care if they know what I do in my own home," you may foolishly say. Or, just as dumbly, "They will not be interested in anything I do."

This information will be held about you until the authorities need it for anything at all. Like, for example, here in U.K. when government looked for dirt on members of the Paddington train crash survivors' group. It was led by badly injured Pam Warren. She had more than 20 operations after the 1999 rail crash, which killed 31 and injured many.

This group had fought for better and safer railways, all by legal means. By all accounts a group of fine outstanding people with good intent. So what was their crime to deserve this investigation? It was just for showing up members of government to be the incompetents they were.

As usual, government tried to put a different spin on the story when they were found out. Even so, their intent was obvious -- they wanted to use this information as propaganda to smear the character of these good people. Our honorable government would rather defile the character of its citizens, rather than address their reasonable concerns.

The government arrogantly presume this group of citizens would not worry about having their privacy invaded.

They can also check whether your expenses match your income and if you are paying enough tax. What do you think all this privacy invasion is for? The War on Terrorism? You poor dupe. All your finances for them to scrutinize; heaven help you if you cannot account for every cent.

The authorities try to make everything they say sound perfectly reasonable. Officials from U.S. Defense Department have said they want "the same level of accountability in cyberspace that we now have in the physical world."

Does government currently keep records of everything that you touch in the physical world to analyze? No, they do not. So, is that the same level of accountability?

They wish to keep an electronic tag on you, like some kind of animal. Actually it is even worse than this -- like some pervert sex offender that they have to keep track of. Would any person of intelligence call that accountability?

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