Monday, August 18, 2003

This is not the America I grew up believing in

Atlanta Journal-Constitution via The Agonist:
Private businesses such as phone companies, banks and retail stores are facing more requests from law enforcement agencies for information about their customers, forcing many to deploy staff and upgrade equipment to meet the demand.

The subpoenas and court orders, many stemming from new government powers to search for terrorists, have alarmed civil rights groups and privacy advocates, who say that the government is secretly snooping on innocent citizens.

"It's very scary," said Oren Teicher, chief operating officer of the American Booksellers Association, a nonprofit group that represents 2,000 businesses.

Law enforcement subpoenas to bookstores have increased in recent years, including requests for titles of books purchased by customers, he said.

The association is lobbying Congress to repeal a portion of the Patriot Act that gives law enforcement broader authority to obtain such subpoenas through a secret court. Under the law, it is illegal for companies to disclose information about the requests, making the problem difficult to quantify, Teicher said. But it is enough to cause alarm in the bookselling community, he added.
As Benjamin Frankiln famously noted, "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." Bravo to the American Booksellers Association for getting it. Too bad the Bush administration does not.

Maybe its time to take Ben off the $100 bill and replace him with John Ashcroft? But first, send one of those $100's off to the DNC!

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