Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Wired News: Big Business Becoming Big Brother

One of the threads of those who oppose the LUS fiber to the premises proposal is an attempt to cast the plan as some kind of nefarious guv'mnt plot to encroach on the rights and privacy of Lafayette citizens.

Well, friends, the sad truth of the matter is that if and when the black helicopters do start landing in your back yards, they'll have corporate logos on them!

WIRED has an excellent story on how the federal government has circumvented laws and rules designed to stop them from invading the privacy of citizens simply by accessing the databases of corporations! The WIRED article is based on a study by the American Civil Liberties Union that details what it calls the "The Surveillance Industrial Complex"—the web of cooperation and information sharing that has developed between federal agencies, law enforcement and corporations.

Call it the 'adaptive enterprise' approach to information gathering. That is, confronted with which blocked various data sweeping operations carried out directly by the government, the feds turned to private sector companies which, by the way, have much more information stored on much more robust systems.

The 'LUS as Big Brother' makes no sense from a scale of enterprise concept—I mean LUS's annual budget would be barely an accounting blip at Cox, BellSouth or even Gannett.

The reality of the situation is that it is all that information you freely give companies when you use their credit cards, register for their give aways, use their 'preferred customer' cards, your credit reports, your travel records—all the stuff you thought was somehow private—these are the records that companies are freely sharing with law enforcement, a.k.a. 'Big Brother.'

That opponents of the LUS plan will continue to shamelessly raise this canard as evidence of their desperation—and lack of respect for the intelligence of the citizens they claim to hold in such high regard.

If you'd like to get a copy of the ACLU's report on the Big Government/Big Business attack on privacy, go to the ACLU website (http://www.aclu.org). You'll find a link to the report there.

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