Why Worry?

We hear often about the “slippery slope”.  This imaginary surface represents a descending pathway.  Once one steps upon it, the future is destined to ever descend.  Hmmm.

The current uproar about the Obama Administration’s 4th Amendment transgressions is defended by people who say no phone calls or emails have been read without a legitimate court order.  Others say, maybe but…  The “but” refers to the next time when some official wants more information but decides not to ask the court since he/she is sure the additional information will be relevant.  And why not even more information.

And just suppose in that information gathering, the conscientious public servant discovers an obvious tax code violation?  And, the information is referred to the IRS for further investigation?  Hmmm.

Is this government gone wrong?

Call me crazy but…   Imagine a court case where a defendant’s or witness’ character is called into question.  The prosecutor subpoenas the defendant’s/witness’ Facebook entries which reveal an illicit relationship.  The zealous prosecutor does not stop there.  He/she subpoenas Google search records and shows the defendant’s/witness’ predilection for visiting pornographic sites.

Here’s another.  Following the death of an highly insured individual, the insurance company refuse to pay on the grounds that the deceased had not disclosed fully his health conditions.  The insurance company, using freedom of information, had sued for release of DNA records which the government had obtained when the deceased was arrested once.  Hmmm.

It is not clear at this point how the 4th Amendment will play out.  Terroristic threats tend to unglue the public.  No self respecting elected official is going to get caught looking soft upon acts of terror.  The more incredible set of events is what private information Americans are providing willingly to internet services.

Management of this personnel information collection will require some common sense regulations.  Transparency on what has been collected and where it can be used is a starting point.  In addition there should be a “sunset” requirement which mandates that after, say three years, the information is destroyed.  This approach should apply to both the government and the private sector.

Hmmm.

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