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Saturday, December 21, 2013

Big Brother 2.0 - The Time to 'Wake Up' has Come and Gone

John Caile - USCCA
Big Brother 2.0
I wrote about the potential for governmental abuse in aConcealed Carry Magazine column. There’s a long list of people who wish to restrict the rights of Americans. Gun owners are often the target of such restrictions. One reason for fears of increased spying is that our numbers are soaring.
According to the FBI, there have been 73,441,399 background checks for gun purchases since President Obama took office, or 43 percent of the 170,639,292 checks completed since 1998. That’s a lot of firearm owners, many of them first time purchasers.
Because there is technically no national gun registry, and only a handful of states have local gun registration, many gun owners unfortunately have a false sense of security. But every time you purchase a firearm, whether a long gun or handgun, you undergo a NICS check. This immediately flags you as a “gun owner,” and while the background check does not include the specific firearm we have purchased, it does specify a “long gun” or a handgun.
Since handguns are right up there with “assault weapons” in the view of many in the current administration, that information is likely enough to invite further scrutiny. And in today’s technologically sophisticated world, it would be relatively easy for some big budget government agency to run an algorithm based program to cross-check our names with other databases.
Using “keyword” searches (just as the IRS has already admitted to doing), it doesn’t take much imagination to envision some overzealous government worker bee scrolling though thousands of names of gun owners (especially carry permit holders). What will he do with the information his “cool” new program has produced, highlighting words like “Tea Party” or “Patriot” for example?
Think of all the other ways that “Big Brother” can now collect data and track your behaviors. Your phone records. Your bank records and credit card history. Your Facebook page. The Internet sites you’ve visited (including this one). Even the GPS in your phone or car can now be used for a variety of data gathering schemes. Meanwhile, software that provides the means of correlating information in multiple databases is expanding in capability exponentially.
And now this:
“WASHINGTON (AP) July 17, 2013 — Chances are, your local or state police departments have photographs of your car in their files, noting where you were driving on a particular day, even if you never did anything wrong.
Using automated scanners, law enforcement agencies across the country have amassed millions of digital records on the location and movement of every vehicle with a license plate, according to a study published Wednesday by the American Civil Liberties Union. (sic) Departments keep the records for weeks or years, sometimes indefinitely.”
The Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that a judge’s approval is needed to track a car with GPS, but networks of plate scanners allow police to effectively track a driver’s location, sometimes several times every day, with few legal restrictions. Disturbingly, policies regarding how long your license “tracking” information can be kept in these rapidly growing databases are unclear at best.
Now consider that this new source of information about your movements could soon be correlated with all those other government databases containing your name and photograph. Throw in facial recognition software and the ability of government agencies to track your every move increases exponentially, along with the potential for abuse.
But, hey, if you haven’t done anything wrong, you have nothing to hide, right?

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