I had to write a paper this week for my IT class. We’ve been dealing with computer crimes and privacy issues inside the workplace. The following is a paper I had to write, which I thought I’d throw up here. I’m not typically prone to write and discuss politics or political activities. I used to be interested in that area, but no longer. I’m an impartial observer mostly. I prefer to sit back and observe. Though I may have strong opinions one way or the other, I typically keep them to myself. That being said, I think this might be a good read for some out there:
Ethics, of all sorts, are and will be problematic in the years to come as men and women across all boundaries labor to delineate where personal privacy begins and ends. Sadly, though, these lines have already been drawn and yet most do not even know they have been drawn. One such statement, from the module, seems to echo this issue:
“Although most organizations use data files for legitimate and/or justifiable purposes, opportunities for invasion of privacy abound. Legislation such as The Children’s Internet Protection Act has been enacted to protect minors using the Internet. Other laws have been enacted also, such as the Privacy Act of 1974, the USA Patriot Act, and the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act.”
I must preface my comments on this particular paragraph of the module before continuing. Within this paragraph exists some ambiguity, something which is less than desirable for someone, like myself, who is trying to write an unambiguous response to the question at hand. Nevertheless, in looking at this paragraph, I am compelled to draw a few conclusions. Chief among these conclusions is that the Privacy Act, the USA Patriot Act and the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act are believed to have been enacted to “protect” individuals from an “invasion of privacy.” I wholeheartedly acknowledge that I may err in this assessment and, if so, so be it. However, based off the current construction of the paragraph I am compelled to believe that the writer of this paragraph is of the frame of mind that they were largely written and passed as a way to protect individuals throughout America.
I may come across as being mildly cynical in class and on the forums where we post responses to weekly questions and topics, though I do not consider myself to be of the cynical variety. I prefer to think that I look at things from an objective standpoint. Yes, if you’re thinking, I subjectively think that I am objective. The ultimate dichotomy. Nevertheless, I prefer to sit back in as impartial a manner as possible and assess things as they come. Sometimes I fail, sometimes I succeed. The joy is in neither the success nor the failure, but in the personal improvement that comes from not accepting everything at face value and truly learning for myself.
I would like to say that I am surprised that people view legislation such as the USA Patriot Act as a way of “protecting” individuals. It’s seemingly championed as protecting individuals from individual harm. However, to me, it’s incontrovertible that the Patriot Act has done more to destroy individual freedoms and privacy than any other piece of legislation that I can think of.
Even taking some items at face value, it’s hard not to notice the language at the Thomas.loc.gov website which can be accessed by following the above hyperlink on the Patriot Act. Following that link will lead the reader to a statement which reads:
H.R.3162 – Title: To deter and punish terrorist acts in the United States and around the world, to enhance law enforcement investigatory tools, and for other purposes. (emphasis added.)
A cursory reading of the title must lead the reader to assume that “investigatory tools” have been “enhanced.” Disregarding the fact that the Patriot Act was passed merely one month after 9/11 when the public and elected officials were so shell shocked at what had happened, as that would necessitate a whole book to discuss the ramifications, a simple internet search of the far reaching tentacles of the Patriot Act should lead some to question the party line that the Patriot Act was for our “protection.”
Benjamin Franklin once stated that, “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” This statement is perhaps best juxtaposed against the following graphic:
On one hand, we have the likes of Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Paine decrying the idea of giving up our individual freedoms for some peace, and on the other we have the likes of George Bush, the President at the time of the passage of the Patriot Act, being paraphrased in the above graphic saying, “Give up your liberty, or we’re all gonna die!” The alarmism is all too palpable in this discussion on the Patriot Act. Today, most have bought – hook, line and sinker – into the latter philosophy, as witnessed by President Obama’s recent extension of the so-called “Patriot” Act, which was “necessary” to protect us from “terrorism.” Some fail to see the irony in this statement, though it is quite thick.
According to an article by TaFoya Court, the extension allows the government to continue with “court approved roving wiretaps that permit surveillance on multiple phones, court approved seizure of records and property … and surveillance of … non-U.S. citizen suspected of terrorist activities.” Caroline Fredrickson, director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office, states that the Patriot Act has resulted in nothing more than “the gagging of our nation’s librarians under the national security letter statute [and] the gutting of time-honored surveillance laws, the Patriot Act has been disastrous for Americans’ rights.”
Included within the Patriot Act is the ability of federal authorities to perform “sneak and peek” warrants. A “sneak and peak” warrant enables these federal authorities to search a person’s home, office or other personal property without the person’s knowledge. Librarians, as mentioned in the previous paragraph, as well as bookstores, are currently required through the Patriot Act to provide the records of books read by their patrons. As Representative Ron Paul opined some years ago:
“[t]he Patriot Act waters down the Fourth amendment by expanding the federal government’s ability to use wiretaps without judicial oversight. The requirement of a search warrant and probable cause strikes a balance between effective law enforcement and civil liberties. Any attempt to dilute the warrant requirement threatens innocent citizens with a loss of their liberty. This is particularly true of provisions that allow for issuance of nationwide search warrants that are not specific to any given location, nor subject to any local judicial oversight.
The Act makes it far easier for the government to monitor your internet usage by adopting a lower standard than probable cause for intercepting e-mails and internet communications. I wonder how my congressional colleagues would feel if all of their e-mail headings and the names of the web sites they visited were available to law enforcement upon a showing of mere “relevance.”
Later that same year, Representative Paul stated:
“Recent revelations that the National Security Agency has conducted broad surveillance of American citizens’ emails and phone calls raise serious questions about the proper role of government in a free society. …
“…most governments, including our own, cannot resist the temptation to spy on their citizens when it suits government purposes. …We have a mechanism called the Constitution that is supposed to place limits on the power of the federal government. Why does the Constitution have an enumerated powers clause, if the government can do things wildly beyond those powers – such as establish a domestic spying program? Why have a 4th Amendment, if it does not prohibit government from eavesdropping on phone calls without telling anyone? … The rule of law is worthless if we ignore it whenever crises occur.”
The Patriot Act, a misnomer if there ever were one, is only one example of individual “protection” getting thrown out the window in the name of safety. Truth be told, the extraordinary power granted to the government through the Patriot Act, and other acts promising individual “protection,” enables this same government to look into our private lives and be used for far too many purposes wholly unrelated to terrorism.
As we have seen in the course forum on BlackBoard, most of my classmates are all too eager to implement far-reaching surveillance measures to justify protection of corporate assets and intellectual property. Most argue that since the “law” dictates that employees are not entitled to personal privacy rights while at work, then there’s no reason to afford them any. It would seem the rational is that a salary is sufficient collateral to buy off the privacy of the individual.
In truth, I’m surprised that so many put the “corporate” needs above the “individual” needs. Even though this is a very complex and nuanced problem, there is simply no reason, as Franklin stated, to give up “essential liberty” to purchase “temporary safety.” Though the Supreme Court recently granted corporations all the privileges of citizenship, a decision which is buttressed by a “125 year-old precedent in the case of Santa Clara v. Santa Fe, where the Court first developed the legal doctrine of corporate personhood,” we must never forget that employees are individuals with rights that do not end the moment an employee enters the doors of his or her place of employment. Similarly, we should not presume that the “Patriot” Act is a valid “protection” of individuals when it does so much that undermines and tears away the very foundations of individual liberties we seem to believe in. I say “seem” because while we profess the belief in individual liberties and privacies on the one hand, all too frequently we support, uphold and vote for legislation like the Patriot Act which goes against all our personal beliefs and the subject, all because we buy into the “official” story sold to us by main stream media outlets and paid representatives.
That is where my paper ended. In a spiritual sense, I would add that these measures are far reaching. While many people champion and promote the idea that the War in Heaven was fought over Lucifer trying to “force” us into obedience, I more closely align with the idea that Lucifer was trying to “destroy the agency of man” by removing the consequences of sin. Greg Wright, in his book Satan’s War on Free Agency, argues persuasively towards this end. I think it may have been a combination of the two. In order to convince a “third part” (note, a “third part” does not mean “one third” no matter who says it does) of the hosts of heaven, he must have been very persuasive. In order to persuade someone to accept an alternative plan, it would have to have been appealing. Greg Wright argues that, in today’s world, the far more persuasive plan is one where everyone can do whatever they want without punishment. Trying to sell the “force” plan, as he calls it, would be much, much harder, if only because the “third part” that followed him had to be convinced that an omniscient God’s plan was somehow inferior to Lucifer’s.
In the end we must be mindful of the increasing encroachments on our individual liberties. As we give more and more of our liberties away to employers who would monitor us at all times, agencies which do monitor us at all times, and others, we lose a bit of ourselves and the agency with which we were endowed eons ago. It is one of the many ways by which we “receive not the light.”
D&C 93:30-32 summarizes this perfectly:
32 And every man whose spirit receiveth not the alight is under condemnation. (Emphasis Added.)
 IT-500, Module 9.
 Website, retrieved 03/06/2010: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d107:H.R.3162:
 Cort, TaFoya. “Obama, Congress extend Bush’s PATRIOT Act.” 03/04/2010. http://www.dailytitan.com/2010/03/obama-congress-extend-bush%E2%80%99s-patriot-act/. Retrieved 03/06/2010.
 Klinger, Scott. “The Bush-Packed Supreme Court Thinks Corporations Are People Too.” 01/22/2010. http://www.alternet.org/rights/145323/the_bush-packed_supreme_court_thinks_corporations_are_people_too?utm_source=feedblitz&utm_medium=FeedBlitzRss&utm_campaign=alternet. Retrieved 03/06/2010.
 Moses 4:3: “Wherefore, because that aSatan brebelled against me, and sought to destroy the cagency of man, which I, the Lord God, had given him, and also, that I should give unto him mine own power; by the power of mine Only Begotten, I caused that he should be dcast down…”
 D&C 29:36: “And it came to pass that Adam, being tempted of the adevil—for, behold, the bdevil was before Adam, for he crebelled against me, saying, Give me thine dhonor, which is my epower; and also a fthird part of the ghosts of heaven turned he away from me because of their hagency…”