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Government merges closer with corporations to step up surveillance as US heads into total fascism

Government surveillance

(NaturalNews) For a while after former NSA contractor Edward Snowden blew the whistle on the spy agency's massive collection of personal data on tens of millions of Americans, it appeared as though there might be some genuine reform of how the intelligence community operates.

In August 2013, weeks after Snowden first revealed the existence of the NSA's "Prism" spy program, several lawmakers called for reforms in the way the agency does its business. The calls came on the heels of a government report which found that the agency broke a substantial number of its own rules in conducting the domestic surveillance, a violation of its founding mandate.

"Press reports that the National Security Agency broke privacy rules thousands of times per year and reportedly sought to shield required disclosure of privacy violations are extremely disturbing," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said, according to The Washington Post.

Secret orders, secret spying

The Obama Administration, which inherited the surveillance program from the Bush Administration, went on to defend it, however, insisting that no laws were broken. Others who also defended the program claimed that the government derived its authority from the USA Patriot Act, and from a secret order President Bush signed in 2002, which authorized the intelligence community to spy on U.S. callers without a warrant.

In December 2005 The New York Times reported:

Months after the Sept. 11 attacks, President Bush secretly authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on Americans and others inside the United States to search for evidence of terrorist activity without the court-approved warrants ordinarily required for domestic spying, according to government officials.

Under a presidential order signed in 2002, the intelligence agency has monitored the international telephone calls and international e-mail messages of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people inside the United States without warrants over the past three years in an effort to track possible "dirty numbers" linked to Al Qaeda, the officials said.

The defenders appear to have won out. There has been no reform effort to pass Congress, and certainly Obama has signed no reform efforts into law. In fact, the intelligence community is pretty much continuing to operate pretty much as it has since 9/11.

But it's not like the president hasn't addressed the issue at all. He has -- just not in a way most Americans would appreciate.

Companies are leery of additional federal involvement in their business

In recent days, Obama has signed a new executive order essentially expanding the government's capability to violate your Fourth Amendment privacy rights.

As reported by The Wall Street Journal, the order is part of a package of policy initiatives and legislation the White House is pursuing, ostensibly to improve cyber security. And while that is a worthy and necessary goal, the nature of the president's order is troubling.

Much of the order will be voluntary, which is reflective of private industry's wariness regarding increased government involvement in how they defend themselves from cyber attacks.

But, as WSJ further reported:

One significant part of the executive order would allow the Department of Homeland Security to approve classified information sharing arrangements. DHS previously wasn't among the federal agencies that had this power. The change could be substantial, as DHS is supposed to serve as the primary interface between the government and companies when it comes to sharing information about cyberthreats.

The paper noted that the NSA and the Central Intelligence Agency could very well limit the amount of information they share with companies.

That may or may not be comforting. The NSA and CIA would likely be more willing to participate in any information-sharing if it involved more swapping of customer data.

The order is limited in that companies, thus far, cannot be compelled to participate. But clearly the mindset of the administration is to marry resources with a private sector that may have as much reason as the government to erect stronger barriers to information, yet is skeptical -- and rightly so -- of any increased federal involvement in their business.






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