Is the US Government spying on its own population? Yes. Absolutely.
The question is not longer “Does the US spy on its citizenry”, but rather “To what depths can America’s surveillance system reach into the daily lives of the people?”
And the chilling answer, says Senator Ron Wyden, is way more than most people think.
“We’re getting to a gap between what the public thinks the law says and what the American government secretly thinks the law says,” describes Wyden “When you’ve got that kind of a gap, you’re going to have a problem on your hands.”
Not enough American’s are aware of how integrated their surveillance state has become, and fewer still even perceive government spying as a threat. The end result of this is that too much power concentrates into too few hands, leading to a political system that runs more like a dictatorship than a democracy.
So what does the US government do already, using different interpretations of information gathering bills like the Patriot Act?
- They can grab a cellphone company’s phone records, giving access to driver’s license records, hotel records, car-rental records, apartment-leasing records, credit card records, and the like.
- They can perform a “bulk collection” operation, pulling in massive amounts of information on private citizens, including implementing an internet dragnet.
- They can even use geolocation data from cellphones to collect information on the whereabouts of Americans.
Of course, some have postulated they’ve been doing this for years. The Patriot Act only sought to make legal what the US Gov’t was doing anyway.
This begs the question, if America has long been spying on its own population without legal authority, then why even bother repealing the Patriot Act?
Well, it’s about swinging the pendulum back towards the side of freedom. If Americans can at least make it unlawful for their government to invade such depths of personal privacy, they will have some recourse to hold the violators accountable.
Otherwise, the more-surveillance-is-always-better mindset will keep pushing the envelope, eroding more civil liberties until the only thing left to protect is the surveillance state itself.