Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Another assault on privacy

It's just never enough. No matter how much data the US government can collect on citizens, there is always more data just out of reach.

Last week the European Parliament voted to pass a bill allowing the US Department of Homeland Security to have access to the Passenger Name Records of any airline either operating out of the 27 countries of the European Union or any other airline incorporated or "storing data" in the EU.

And, no, you shouldn't need to ask why los federales need such information. It's the latest salvo in the war on the right to be left alone terrorism. Apologists for the overreaching arms of the state will point out that such information allowed the United States to catch various baddies over the years.

And now ordinary folks from across the pond will be giving up some of their personal data to Big Brother for the privilege of coming to America.

Some MEPs say the proposals leave too many unanswered questions, such as how will the US use this information, how long will it keep the data and who will have access to it? 
Dutch Liberal-Democrat MEP Sophie in 't Veld was involved in drafting the proposals but voted against the bill. 
"The results of the vote show clearly that there are very strong reservations against this agreement. However, the US made it very clear that a 'no' vote would be answered by suspending visa-free travel to the US," she said. 
"Many colleagues - understandably - did not want to make this sacrifice. But it is highly regrettable that the fundamental rights of EU citizens have been bargained away under pressure."

And why did the EU prostrate itself before the United States and agree to give up personal data on their citizens? Because of threats by the United States to suspend visa-free travel from Europe. Oh, the things our representatives are willing to cede on our behalf for the convenience of others.

Somewhere along the way in this war on the Bill of Rights terrorism, the government has forgotten one very important proposition. The proposition that we are all innocent unless proven guilty. Slowly, but surely, our basic right to be left alone by the state has eroded - and continues to erode because few people are willing to stand up and do anything about it.

Most folks will stand in that line at the airport and grumble about having to take off their shoes or pass through a full body scanner or have to suffer the humiliation of a scope and grope and just complain. Well, I guess that's just the price we pay for safety, they say.

This isn't about safety. It's about the unencumbered intrusion of the federal government into our private lives. It has to stop or else one day you will wake up and wonder where your right to privacy went.

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