A Voice Would Be Nice

There is a lot of back and forth going on regarding the changes to the Patriot Act and how the Freedom Act will ultimately supplant some of its provisions. The interesting thing for most people that are primarily concerned that there aren’t abuses of the system is that however the current deal comes down, it isn’t necessarily going to square with the reality that Main Street sees on a daily basis.

The Senate has tried to account for the changes that phone companies will need to make in their databases by extending the existing system, or reporting back to the federal government, but the real question that should be being asked is where is the accountability from the perspective of a private citizen?

The Sign of the Times

At a recent meeting in Europe, a Harvard professor noted that the key problem in the United States today is not Big Brother, it is Little Cousin. Business networks, private interest groups, and thieves to the extent that they can, are focused on getting their fingers into the information pie and pulling a piece away for themselves. It is only natural, therefore, to assume that a civilian commission with a mixed group of people is appropriate to oversee the structure that the phone companies create in order to verify that their own networks are not compromised at a lower level by employees or thieves. After interviewing executives that maintain that they are careful about their own phone activity because their competitors have access to phone company records, it makes sense to at least question why the topic is not one that is being discussed.

Theater of the Ballot Box

As the rest of the drama in the United States plays out, it looks like there will be ample opportunity for those that state that the provisions of the Patriot Act should die of their own accord to carry the moment because there aren’t a lot of populist options being thrown out by either side regarding how to manage the future. That can leave the average person, who wants security, but does not want to be exploited a reduced menu of options to cheer for. On the other hand, waiting in the wings is an act known as the Surveillance State Repeal Act, which will roll back many of the changes that were made during wartime to the laws governing information gathering. It is likely that those that have hitched their wagon to opposing the continuation of the Patriot Act will also get behind an act that restores what those who are older than the wars that were fought understand to be reasonable. So far, notably, Ron Paul has endorsed the act, calling it a better solution for returning the United States to the normalcy that it deserves. The act is indeed designed to be superior to the Freedom Act in many ways to the average American.

Finishing the Transition

It is a planned for and historic tradition for conditions in the United States to return to non-war status in phases after a major conflict. The past several years have seen a variety of snake oil salespeople selling security solutions that we probably can do without, but might feel better implementing given the unfinished transition to peacetime footing. It isn’t, therefore, a compromise of principles to consider the Freedom Act as being too much a vehicle of private interests to succeed. Cheering for the Surveillance State Repeal Act is likewise something that can make a lot of sense- as long as you consider that if the average person were writing bills, there wouldn’t have been the high drama that we are witnessing this week.