Theodore Roosevelt, 1903

"Let us speak courteously, deal fairly, and keep ourselves armed and ready." - Theodore Roosevelt, 1903

Friday, April 12, 2013

Our Government Is Violating Our Privacy

It is accurate to say that the number one most important thing to understand about Americans is probably their devotion to "individualism."

Only second to the value and importance that an American places on individualism, is the importance Americans assign to their privacy.

Yes, the right to privacy is an ideal that runs deep in our American culture. It’s something to be both respected and defended, and is considered fundamental to a free society.

We carry this right like a shield, and while often very warm and welcoming hosts, the home is considered a bastion of privacy. What is "ours" is OURS!

Our privacy is considered important to us for many reason, but mostly because it has to do with our concept of freedom and liberty - and security. In many cases, our privacy has everything to do with our safety and security.

Since I've received a lot of e-mail asking me about our American Cultural Values, I figure it may be time to do a talk about this.

The Bill of Rights reflects the concern of our founders for protecting specific aspects of privacy, such as the privacy of beliefs (1st Amendment), privacy of the home against demands that it be used to house soldiers (3rd Amendment), privacy of the person and possessions as against unreasonable searches (4th Amendment), and the 5th Amendment's privilege against self-incrimination, which provides protection for the privacy of personal information. 

Yes, while Americans might frown on someone asking their age or how much money they have in the bank, to which most if not all will answer "It's none of your business," a violation of our privacy is seen as a violation of our liberty as a free people - not slave nor peasant to be ruled over by a totalitarian government. 

If our privacy is assaulted, our freedom is under direct attack. 

Allow me to note something that many of my younger readers are probably unaware of. By law, our Social Security numbers were initially forbidden to be used as identification numbers by anyone - government or civilian. 

Social Security cards printed from January 1946 until January 1972 expressly stated the number and card were not to be used for identification purposes.

But, since nearly everyone in the United States now has a number, it became convenient to use it anyway and the message was removed. 

The SSN card is still not suitable for primary identification as it has no photograph, no physical description and no birth date. All it does is confirm that a particular number has been issued to a particular name.

Social Security numbers have become de facto national identification numbers. Although some people do not have an SSN assigned to them, it is becoming increasingly difficult to engage in legitimate financial activities such as applying for a loan or a bank account without one. 

While the government cannot require an individual to disclose his SSN without a legal basis, companies may refuse to provide service to an individual who does not provide a SSN.

The Social Security Act was drafted during Franklin Delano Roosevelt's first term by the President's Committee on Economic Security, and passed by Congress as part of the Second New Deal.

The act was an attempt to limit what were seen as dangers in the modern American life, including old age, poverty, unemployment, and the burdens of widows and fatherless children.

By signing this act on August 14, 1935, President Roosevelt became the first president to advocate federal numbering of our citizens.

When the Social Security Protection Act of 2010 became law, President Obama was supposedly aiming at reducing identity theft by limiting the Government's use of and access to social security numbers.

The bill, which passed the Democrat controlled House and Senate at the time, supposedly prohibits government agencies from printing social security numbers on checks and from allowing prison inmates from getting access to Social Security numbers.

The problem is that with our Social Security numbers, the government knows all about us and keeps our private information on file. Because of that, the government makes null and void our right to privacy because it makes that information to anyone who wants it.   

The federal government is a giant collector of information of every sort on all of us. And yes, the Obama administration is responsible for violating our privacy in many ways

Recently, the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) has acknowledges releasing personal details on farmers and ranchers.

The Environmental Protection Agency acknowledged last week Tuesday that it released personal information on potentially thousands of farmers and ranchers to radical environmental groups, following concerns from congressional Republicans and agriculture groups that the release could endanger their safety.

The EPA said "some of the personal information that could have been protected … was released."

Though the EPA has already sent out the documents, the agency now says it has since redacted sensitive details and "asked" the environmental groups to “return the information.”

But Sen. John Thune, who originally complained about the release, slammed the EPA for trying to retroactively recover the sensitive data.

"It is inexcusable for the EPA to release the personal information of American families and then call for it back, knowing full well that the erroneously released information will never be fully returned," he said in a statement to FoxNews.com.

"While EPA acknowledging that it erred is a first step, more must be done to protect the personal information of our farmers and ranchers now and in the future. I will continue to demand answers from the EPA on how this information was collected and why it is still being distributed to extreme environmental groups to the detriment of our farm and ranch families."

The information on livestock and produce farmers was sought through a Freedom of Information Act request by the groups Earth Justice, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Pew Charitable Trust.

The groups, which have not commented on whether they plan to return the documents, were originally given information on roughly 80,000 farmers and ranchers - subsequently putting them at risk of harm.

The agency acknowledged the information included individual names, email addresses, phone numbers and personal addresses.

Sen. Thune, of South Dakota, where 500 farmers and ranchers had their information made public, sent a letter to the EPA requesting the agency answer a list of questions - including whether agency officials reviewed the information to see whether the release complied with the federal Privacy Act of 1974.

“The EPA has threatened the health and safety of agriculture producers and their families and has damaged the security of our food system,” Sen Thune said.

“There is a growing gap of trust between America’s farm and ranch families and the EPA. Much of this lack of trust is due to EPA’s aggressive regulatory agenda.”

Other concerns expressed by Sen.Thune, farm bureaus and others include whether the EPA first consulted with the departments of Agriculture and Homeland Security, which had already advised against compiling a public database with similar information and whether the EPA still intends to create such a record.

“Does the EPA intend to gather any more personal information on livestock producers?” Senator Thune asked in his letter to agency Acting Administrator Bob Perciasepe.

Critics have characterized Earth Justice and the organizations as being "Extremist groups" and "Eco Terrorists" and say the released information included data on family farmers who feed fewer than 1,000 animals, which excludes them from having to comply with the Act.

"This information details my family’s home address," J.D. Alexander, a Nebraska cattle farmer and former president of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, told FarmFuture.com.

"The only thing it doesn’t do is chauffeur these extremists to my house."

The Obama administration has had its EPA work hand in hand with these radical Environmentalist groups, yet they do no understand the worry on the part of the farmer and the rancher out there.

The information they furnished to those extremists may facilitate criminal acts against facilities and people at those facilities. If my name were among those released, I would be worried. 

The EPA said the majority of the data was already publicly available through state databases, web sites and federal and state permits, or is required to be released under federal or state law - as if that justifies there actions.

In response to privacy concerns raised by agricultural groups, the EPA supposedly redacted sections of information from 10 of the 29 states that contained some personal data.

So if you're reading this and think it's only farmers and ranchers who should worry about what the Obama administration is doing with you private information, think again! 

Because of ObamaCare, you are now owned by the state. 

You see the IRS is set to take a significant role in the new health care law. That significant part of the ObamaCare plan continues to worry many who have little faith in government efficiency in taking care of the privacy of millions of Americans involved in the system.

Many security experts fear that Americans' patient information will be vulnerable to unauthorized access and distribution with perpetrators being outside hackers or IRS insiders.

Today's the IRS (Internal Revenue Service) relies extensively on computerized systems to carry out its demanding responsibilities to collect taxes, process tax returns, and enforce the nation's tax laws.

Add the new responsibilities of taxing health care under the guise of levying fines on those who violate ObamaCare provisions as well as record keeping, and there now exists a greater likelihood of patient information being unlawfully accessed or accidentally released to third parties.

Effective information security controls are essential to protect financial and taxpayer information from inadvertent or deliberate misuse, improper disclosure, or destruction. Having a person's medical records along with other personal employment, financial, banking, and tax information is a responsibility that the federal government wants to take - but we are still at risk.

So will your private information be guarded by the IRS? Who knows!

Besides, the bigger question is, who guards us from the IRS?

Yes, our government is violating our privacy like never before.

In fact, the Internal Revenue Service believes it doesn’t need permission to root through your emails, texts or other forms of electronic correspondence. This is according to recently released internal IRS agency documents.

The IRS documents, which were obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request by the American Civil Liberties Union, reveal that IRS agents have been operating under the assumption that they can bypass court orders and warrants to search your private correspondence.

The ACLU, who I never thought I'd agree with, claims that the action on the part of the IRS in turn violates the Fourth Amendment.

According to a 2009 IRS employee handbook, though, the tax agency said the Fourth Amendment does not protect emails because Internet users don’t "have a reasonable expectation of privacy in such communications."

The current online version of the IRS manual says that no warrant is required for emails that are stored by an Internet storage provider for more than 180 days.

"This is an affront not only to our system of checks and balances, but also to our fundamental right to privacy," Colorado Democrat Sen. Mark Udall said in a statement, adding that he wants Congress to overhaul the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA).

The ECPA is the federal law that governs law enforcement access to emails, and draws on what some say is an outdated distinction between email stored on a server for 180 days or less and email that has been opened.

Opened emailed and email older than six months does not require a warrant. Email that hasn’t been opened or is less than six months old does.

Last year, the ACLU looked into allegations that the IRS was reading people’s emails and checking their Facebook postings without permission.

Privacy advocate groups, like the ACLU, say the government must obtain a search warrant based on probable cause but the IRS told agents in its criminal division they didn’t need to.

The wishful thinking on this is that the IRS is going to stop on its own. Fact is, with the passage of ObamaCare, your medical, financial, tax, and banking records, your privacy will be violated.

Like it or not, ObamaCare mandates everyone purchase "qualified" health insurance or pay a fine called a "shared responsibility payment."

To assess who gets fined, the IRS is authorized to look through your private information.

Since liberty equals privacy, our liberty is at stake here.


Story by Tom Correa

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for your comment.