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Living in a Big Brother world

May 16, 2013 - Andrea Johnson
I don't much like the idea of living in a Big Brother world, where the government can subpoena phone records with impunity. As a reporter it is even more disconcerting that the Department of Justice has so little regard for freedom of the press that it could subpoena hundreds of personal and business phone records for reporters at the Associated Press.

For that reason, Congress badly needs to pass laws that will protect our privacy in the Internet age. It should also quickly pass a law that strengthens a reporter's right to protect his anonymous sources.

"Wired" ran an essay this week discussing the lengths that a government "Deep Throat" would have to go to in 2013 to leak information to a reporter. Email probably won't do it, since former CIA head David Petraeus got caught via incriminating emails sent to his mistress. The FBI can subpoena your phone records, for both land-line and cell phone. A cell phone acts like a GPS unit, tracking your every location. They can subpoena your e-mail messages and when and where the accounts were accessed. They can access your Internet search history and what sites you visited. Your computer records every move you make.

The Wired article has several suggestions for how Deep Throat might communicate with a reporter, none of them absolutely fool proof. You could always buy a cheap laptop computer or pre-paid cell phone and use them only to communicate with the reporter from an anonymous location with a WiFi connection. Even there, cloak and dagger stuff requires extra precautions: leave every other electronic device that could connect to WiFi behind, since they can pinpoint your location with great accuracy. Pay cash for everything. Open up a gmail account that you use only to communicate with the reporter. Oh, and make sure you remove the battery from that burner phone and turn it off.

Of course, Deep Throat can also use snail mail to contact his source, which might be the smartest option. Or, he could do as Jethro Gibbs did in this week's season finale of NCIS and take his source out to his cabin in the woods, a place that has no WiFi connections and is so remote it doesn't appear on any map.

Depressing, isn't it? And apparently the government thinks it should be even easier to track our every move on the Internet. The Washington Times reported last month on a proposal under consideration that would let the government levy hefty fines against Google, Facebook and other companies that refuse to comply with online wiretap orders. Privacy advocates will howl, as well they should, if such a law ever comes to pass. The rest of us should be howling this week too.


Article Comments



May-20-13 6:16 PM

So now Fox news is the target of Obama and Holder.

Keep chewing boys and you will both get your bags packed and be sent back to Africa or Kenya or the Muslim world.. Your choice and your only choice. Both are so anti-American, so anti-Constitution and so stinking crooked its pathetic.

Holder has just about shot himself in the foot with the shooting off of his mouth. If they snuck in and found info on Top Secret I am quite sure folks will sneak in and find the dirt he and Obama have on record.. Just a matter of time..


May-20-13 6:12 PM

leftwing You know whats really funny. How incredibly stupid you are. The museum is open to the public. If you were to visit you would see the interactive videos on the decision making and the weapons of mass destruction are part of the interactive system

But then what can you expect from a left-wing with a F in his name?


May-19-13 6:13 PM

Interesting MarkHighwater that you Libs all think Bush was stupid yet he had the ability 9 months into office to stage 9/11.

I wonder if their is a deep dark hole in the brains of people who have this opinion.

If this was an inside job that Bush Chaney must be brilliant..

Apparently Obama is not all that smart.. He can't even fix the economy after 5 yes FIVE years.. Half a decade and he still has gone nowhere on fixing the economy.. Not even a blip on the charts after 5 years..

Some leader>> And where the heck is he that he NEVER gets any information passed on to him? Do they hate him that much that they won't tell him whats going on right under his nose? Benghazi.. umm umm ummm I was never told.. IRS scandal....umm umm I heard it on the news but I knew nothing about it.. Ummm Ummm fast and furious Ummm No one told me,, The Ap was hacked... umm ummm no one told me.. Ummm ummm ask me about Basketball scores and I know the answer but don't ask me about whats happening in


May-17-13 8:41 AM

Since that isn't going to be happening, the other option is to pass laws that prevent the government from abusing its power.


May-16-13 11:24 PM

And the answer is to dump all these great electronics and go back to the way it use to be. If we shut them all off they would have a hard time finding anyone.. Electronics is the answer to the Government prayer.. ou might say they have our number!!


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