Thursday, April 25, 2013

Free Pass on Internet Wiretapping?

Is the federal Department of Justice quietly giving Internet service providers a free pass on wiretapping, or some other form of unwarranted espionage?

Right. We know the first couple of page views everything receives, after being posted here, are Google personnel checking for breaches of contract. No problem. We would actually like to get more page views from the federal government. No need to spy, hack or tap anything--just type "" into your browsers and scroll down.

And if somebody out there is reading my e-mail...well, 90% of it is automatically generated, either as (welcome) notifications that something's been published for the whole world to see, or as (unwelcome) advertisements that something is on the market for the whole world to buy. What's generated by me is written with the expectation that third parties are likely to see it. This web site periodically reminds people that the Internet is no place to circulate pictures of children you love, and I practice what I preach.

The Internet is no place to communicate in ways you're not proud of. I'm not saying that we should ever even try to communicate in ways someone else would be proud of. Two years ago Yahoo e-killed me for saying that I'd withheld from publication even articles that readers had requested, because Yahoo was not following through on the payments it had offered, and that I recommended that other writers do likewise. Somebody at Yahoo claimed that this was "hateful." My conscience is clear; I didn't recommend doing any physical damage to anybody, or even holding any grudges against any individuals, but just withholding our products and services until the people who'd offered to pay for them did so. I will always recommend this. If somebody out there relies on cheating other people for his or her living, such that that person feels that it's "hateful" for workers to demand their wages, that is that person's problem not mine. But if I were going to write something that I'd be ashamed for anyone in my family to see (including those lousy first drafts that may or may not ever turn into decent, printable essays or fiction), I'd keep it off the Internet. If anybody out there is trying to convince three different people that each of them is the person you're going to marry, this web site has always warned you not to do it by e-mail.

Is what the Department of Justice is doing unconstitutional? Probably. Is it new, or has it been going on, unadmittedly, for years? If you think it's new, you may be interested in buying some oceanfront property in Oklahoma! As a law-abiding citizen you shouldn't be afraid that people employed by our federal government are likely to see what you do on the Internet. But you should be aware.

What I mind is the time and money being spent on doing it in sneaky, unconstitutional ways. As this web site observed a few weeks ago...we love our foreign readers, and we love our readers in the U.S. government, and we'd like to see them introduce themselves and talk with one another. Blogs thrive on comments from readers.