A Federal Judge has ordered Google to hand over user information to the FBI in response to the FBI’s warrantless “National Security Letter requests that often also demand the users never be informed that their private information has been given to the Feds.
“CNET has learned that U.S. District Judge Susan Illston in San Francisco rejected Google’s request to modify or throw out 19 so-called National Security Letters, a warrantless electronic data-gathering technique used by the FBI that does not need a judge’s approval. Her ruling came after a pair of top FBI officials, including an assistant director, submitted classified affidavits. The litigation taking place behind closed doors in Illston’s courtroom — a closed-to-the-public hearing was held on May 10 — could set new ground rules curbing the FBI’s warrantless access to information that Internet and other companies hold on behalf of their users. The FBI issued 192,499 of the demands from 2003 to 2006, and 97 percent of NSLs include a mandatory gag order.”
I want terrorists stopped, arrested, and or killed as much as anyone else, but I thought we were defending our very civilization from foreign forces that have no respect for freedom and democracy. If some Al Qaeda associated terrorist group had issued a statement condemning America for the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, then we would see Americans line the streets chanting “USA” like they did in Boston after the police shut down the compliant city. Our own government has done far more to destroy the United States legal and social heritage than any Muslim could ever dream of. And they get to do it in secret courts we barely know about.
I have mixed feelings about Google. I don’t know to what extent they are really pushing back or just making sure they have legal cover for violating users’ privacy. I know that Google has cooperated with regimes that don’t allow privacy. But that is just the point: I remember Congress scolding Google over this.
“Legal representatives from Google, Yahoo, Cisco Systems and Microsoft MSN faced more than three hours of tough questioning today from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle as the House of Representatives bared down on what some of its members perceive as troubling complicity in Chinese human rights violations.”
Well, how does a government avoid such abuses? By a list of “good guys” and “bad guys” that allows the good guys do anything it wants? If the American-favored dissidents in China took control of the government would it then be OK for Google and others to help them spy on their people?
Or should they establish a robust Fourth Amendment law that binds the government no matter who is in power? Like our Founders did!
Ironically, Obama is about to favor a sweeping push to remove privacy from the internet. As one objector put it: “We’ll look a lot more like China than America after this.” The very same government scolding Google for their cooperation in China is demanding it for the United States.
Whatever Google’s role, if the aim of the Islamic terrorists was to end the American civilization, marked by liberty and rule of law, then no one has cooperated with the terrorists more than the US Government in its counter-terrorism activities.