Jared Polis says he wants to protect our privacy online by allowing the government to snoop on social media without any sort of rigid guidelines to determine whose door is going to get busted down in the middle of the night and arrested by federal agents.
Privacy advocates are focused on the central issue of Polis’s bill moving through Congress that requires a warrant before obtaining a person’s emails, and is all well and good.
But, what raised our eyebrows is language that increases surveillance on social media for Homeland Security and law enforcement officers to be on the lookout for terrorists. And therein lies a problem.
What is this administration’s definition of a terrorist? It’s not Nidal Hasan, who said he was defending the Taliban when he killed 13 people and injured dozens more at Fort Hood. That was workplace violence.
When Muhammad Abdulazeez killed four Marines at a Navy operations support center in Tennessee, that was also labeled workplace violence.
There’s also that 2009 report issued by Homeland Security that defined terrorism as right-wing extremism, or groups that are anti-government, reject federal authority in favor of state or local authority, or government authority altogether, and individuals who are driven by single-issues such as abortion or immigration.
So if the government thinks that Christians, Republicans, Libertarians, and most folks who probably don’t like to pay taxes are terrorists, while radicals who commit mass murder in the name of Allah are just angry at their bosses, should they really be snooping social media looking for, ahem, terrorists?
Facebook recently instituted a policy against conducting private gun sales through their page, will the law be abused to track down innocent gun buyers?
We think it would.
It’s one thing to check the background of suspicious persons trying to enter the country, and whether they have posted radical statements on social media, but we fear that unless this authority is strictly limited, it will most likely be abused.
So while Polis is taking bows for securing the privacy of our emails, keep in mind that he also opened a huge door giving police enormous snooping powers without any restraints.