Security and Privacy Today
“Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” – Benjamin Franklin
The world seems to have been turned upside down lately since the election of President Trump, but our problems began long before our newest President was sworn into office. In this article, we will look at where we are today and what brought us here. To start, let’s review our rights and freedoms that have been taken with little knowledge or coverage by mainstream news or concern of the people in just the last few years.
President Obama passed new regulations before he left office, stripping some of our last liberties away. This was done in the form of the USA FREEDOM Act of 2015 on June 6th 2015. The USA Freedom Act increased some provisions of the Patriot Act, which was put into law under President Bush, but provides some additional oversight. One main change is that “Companies are provided monetary incentive to spy and share that information with the government and blanket liability once they do under USA Freedom — even if that breaks that law,” said Sascha Meinrath, the director of X-lab, an independent tech policy institute previously associated with New America. “Once companies receive that, they’ll have almost no reason to weigh in on meaningful surveillance reform.”
Hillary Clinton’s emails have already implicated Google for helping our government assist the rebels in trying to overthrow Syria’s Assad government by creating a secret Defection Tracker database during the Arab Spring movement. Wikileaks Julian Assange is against Google and their in-house think tank Google Ideas directed by Jared Cohen. Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen co-wrote a policy piece for the Council on Foreign Relations’ journal Foreign Affairs, praising the reformative potential of Silicon Valley technologies as an instrument of US foreign policy. Describing what they called “coalitions of the connected.” Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt, has been shown to have a close working relationship with the NSA in emails posted online. Prior to working for Google, Jared Cohen worked at the US State Department. While at the State Department, “Twitter was planning to shut down for maintenance right before the 2009 Iranian elections, Cohen persuaded the company not to because it had become an organizing method for young dissidents”.
On December 23rd 2016 President Obama signed the 2017 NDAA, which had the Countering Foreign Propaganda and Disinformation Act inserted in it which went into law and establishes the Global Engagement Center. The purpose of the Global Engagement Center is “to lead, synchronize, and coordinate efforts of the Federal Government to recognize, understand, expose, and counter foreign state and non-state propaganda and disinformation efforts aimed at undermining United States national security interests.” This act establishes the Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, as the head of the center and gives the government the power to crack down on any media.
To top off his legacy, on January 3rd 2017, President Obama had new rules put into effect allowing all federal intelligence agencies open access to collected NSA data without regard to personal privacy protections. On January 18th President Obama at his last news conference stated,
“There’s a difference between that normal functioning of politics and certain issues or certain moments where I think our core values may be at stake. I put in that category if I saw systematic discrimination being ratified in some fashion. I put in that category explicit or functional obstacles to people being able to vote, to exercise their franchise. I’d put in that category institutional efforts to silence dissent or the press…I think would be something that would merit me speaking out.”
President Trump has inherited all of these new powers from his predecessors, and how he uses them is to yet to be seen. He has already established a precedent with CNN news for two weeks of not allowing his administration’s people to be on the news network. The boycott of CNN ended February 1st 2017 but he still refers to the network as “fake news.” President Trump stated on February 1st 2017, “I don’t like watching fake news,” referring to CNN at an African American History Month listening session. We the American people will have to wait and see how in six months the Global Engagement Center is used to deal with the press.
Please review the links within the article and draw your own conclusions. In the next part of the series, we will cover Russia and US relations.
“If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face—forever.” George Orwell