Loss of Privacy

Keeping you informed on recent losses to privacy and civil rights worldwide.

In an effort to save some time and get the word out quickly, he’s the direct link as well as a cut and paste of what’s happening.

Today, Rep. Randy Forbes of Virginia, the Founder and Chairman of the Congressional Prayer Caucus, and twenty-four other members of the House of Representatives, co-sponsored a resolution in Congress that would “affirm the rich spiritual and religious history of our Nation’s founding and subsequent history and express support for designation of the first week in May as America’s Spiritual Heritage Week for the appreciation of and education on America’s history of religious faith.”

The resolution, H.RES. 397, would put Congress on record as “recognize[ing] the religious foundations of faith on which America was built are critical underpinnings of our Nation’s most valuable institutions and form the inseparable foundation for America’s representative processes, legal systems, and societal structures.”

In addition, the resolution “rejects, in the strongest possible terms, any effort to remove, obscure, or purposely omit such history from our Nation’s public buildings and educational resources” and justifies the need to keep “under God” in the pledge.

Last year, when a similar measure was introduced, 93 members of the House of Representatives co-sponsored this legislation.

Your elected officials need to know that these “Christian nation” resolutions distort America’s history and exclude the history of atheists, humanists, freethinkers and other nontheists who have made significant contributions to our nation.

Their denial of the secular nature of our government means that these members of Congress are not only disagreeing with Americans who know that we are not a Christian nation (and never have been), but they are also disputing our President who recently promoted America’s secular heritage abroad during a trip to Turkey.

In this new era of promoting science and evidence, no representative should feel compelled to support the agenda of the Congressional Prayer Caucus and their attempts to infuse personal religious values into public policy.

You can fill in your basic information at the site and send an email. You can also edit or change the email. Either way, the email will go directly to your representatives.

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Over the course of the past month, there have been numerous stories of everyday people being arrested for taking photos.  Sometimes, it’s of the police and sometimes it’s not.  Photography in a public place should not be a crime under any circumstances and it certainly shouldn’t even be questioned when on private property.

The police slightly harass the guy in the video below and get told off, politely.

This is just one month of incidents.  Consider how many there are in a year.

The London police are deleting tourists’ photos of buses and tube stations to prevent terrorism.  It will probably help to prevent tourism as well.  Apparently terrorists don’t know Google Street View exists and that they can stay home to plot their evildoing instead of going outside with a camera.

Also, here are some photos of the Vauxhall bus station that these “terrorists” were trying to take photographs of.

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The pentagon has plans to build a blimp that will fly for ten years, spying on everything.  It will be capable of detailed radar surveillance of vehicles, planes, and people.

The 450-foot-long craft would give the U.S. military a better understanding of an adversary’s movements, habits and tactics, officials said. And the ability to constantly monitor small movements in a wide area — the Afghanistan- Pakistan border, for example — would dramatically improve military intelligence.

It could also be used in the USA.  They just like to test things in the Middle East first.

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It has always been dangerous to speak freely, but countries that claim to have free speech, yet prohibit certain individuals from even entering their country are hypocrites. Whether or not you agree with all that Geert Wilders says, free speech and free societies should allow him to speak his concerns.

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Justice Antonin Scalia questioned the need to for more protections on people’s privacy.  A law professor at Fordham University assigned his students the task of proving just why individual privacy is so important.

His class turned in a 15-page dossier that included not only Scalia’s home address, home phone number and home value, but his food and movie preferences, his wife’s personal e-mail address and photos of his grandchildren

Reidenberg tells the ABA Journal that the information gathered by his class about Scalia was all “publicly available, for free,” and wasn’t posted on the Internet by the class or otherwise further publicized. He views the dossier-gathering about a public figure as a legitimate classroom exercise intended to spark discussion about privacy law, and says he and the class didn’t intend to offend Scalia.

But Scalia is angry about the entire project, presumably missing the entire point of the class assignment while continuing to believe that what’s good for you isn’t good for him, so you shouldn’t do it to him.

“When there are so few privacy protections for secondary use of personal information, that information can be used in many troubling ways,” he writes in an e-mail to the ABA Journal. “A class assignment that illustrates this point is not one of them. Indeed, the very fact that Justice Scalia found it objectionable and felt compelled to comment underscores the value and legitimacy of the exercise.”

The students in this case only obtained information that was freely available to anyone willing to do a little research and legwork.  If they had gone the route of many semi-legal pay sites online, they could have obtained social security numbers, pay slips, and bank and credit card statements.  Justice Scalia seemed to be ignorant of the fact that so much personal information is available without a person’s permission.  This is precisely why his comments needed to addressed.

Yet, he continues to rely on the belief that, just because something is legal doesn’t mean you should do it.  He naively contends that people shouldn’t take your information just because it’s available.  This is a dangerous stance to take.  Yes, it was done in poor judgment, but what happens when people who don’t care about poor or good judgment take your information anyway?  Assignments, such as these, are sometimes necessary to get the point across.  One can talk forever about the issue, but those with the power to do something about it rarely act swiftly until an incident actually occurs.

There is a growing need for personal information to be kept private.  The secondary use of information is out there because the government allows the sale of personal information from one entity to another.  At some point, something that shouldn’t be public information, will be.

For another, similar case, read the interesting story of the Congressman who helped create the TSA screenings, yet was angered when the guidelines he helped create were used upon him.

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