Are the Post Office and Big Tech the New Additions to Big Brother?

Public outcry from the 2013 Snowden revelations has long faded, and since the January Capitol riots, there have been cries for the federal government to increase surveillance in order to prevent another attack on the cathedral of democracy. Although both parties were clear in their condemnation of the storming of the legislative building, the response has been extremely partisan. Those on the left side of the aisle falsely claim that this was an insurrection and a coup (to be an insurrection, it has to be rebellion against the government, and to be a coup, it has to be both successful and a legitimate attempt to overthrow a government), and those on the right side generally downgrade this terrorist attack to an isolated incident. In either case, and as displayed by the subsequent militarization of the federal city and the public witch hunt of those present during the incident, increased surveillance will become a reality in the aftermath of what some consider the worst attack on our democracy since the American Civil War (not Congress’ delegation of war powers or bills with hundreds of pages to the executive branch’s discretion).

One such surveillance measure that has popped up this year has been the U.S. Postal Inspection Service’s (the law enforcement wing of the U.S. Postal Service) Internet Covert Operations Program (iCOP). Aside from the ludicrous fact that the Postal Service even has law enforcement aspects, the monitoring and collecting of Americans’ social media posts and transferring them to other law enforcement agencies is something that should concern everyone. We already had a plethora of intelligence agencies tracking our every move, but to have the primary mail delivery service do so shows that nobody is safe from any of the government’s agencies. The idea that Big Brother is constantly watching everything you do is no longer reserved for films and novels.

Many Americans may be cheering the idea that the government is keeping them “safe” from domestic terrorist threats, but what people do not think about is what it means for them. It may start as spying on “crazy” Trump-supporters or QAnon conspiracy theorists, but what happens when the tables are turned? If President Trump were to pull a Grover Cleveland, for example, and sit in the highest office in the land for a second nonconsecutive term, what would prevent him from utilizing the same type of measures against Black Lives Matter or other liberal or Marxist groups? This is not something that should be taken lightly, plus of course, we should remember J. Edgar Hoover’s surveillance of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the McCarthyist witch hunts during the Red Scare. Even Congresswoman Ilhan Omar has expressed concerns about new domestic terror laws and spying on conservatives, being a Somali Muslim who became a naturalized American citizen and a target of discrimination (conservatives were content with targeting Muslim and Arab Americans after 9-11, of course).

Operations like iCOP are unconstitutional too (for anyone who still cares about that). Our rights are natural, and we have codified protections in the Bill of Rights. The First Amendment gives us the right to speak our minds and assemble and protest the government, and the Fourth Amendment keeps us from becoming subjected to unreasonable searches and seizures. In order to search the records or social media posts of any person, the government must first obtain a search warrant by a neutral judge (FISA court orders do not really meet this criteria, but they are often used nonetheless) after explaining the exact person, place, and thing that are under investigation. The Post Office being suspicious of a group that is planning a protest because it is full of Trump-supporters does not constitute probable cause, and this broad targeting is not legal. In addition, when people are being monitored, they are less likely to pour out their hearts and souls or attend a protest out of fear of punishment or surveillance. This violates the First Amendment, and we should not tolerate this as Americans.

One way that President Biden plans to evade the First and Fourth Amendments is to partner with private corporations that will collect the data for the government. Hiring a digital hitman to commit an unconstitutional act is still unconstitutional, but this will get less criticism than an overt violation of civil liberties. The Department of Homeland Security committed unconstitutional acts against BLM protestors in Portland last year, as it surveilled journalists and protestors alike, and it appears that the department would like to reverse course and now target Trump-supporters. Although it claims that its monitoring would be within the confines of the Bill of Rights, individuals who believe this should be directed to former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper’s false statement about the U.S. government collecting Americans’ data after I sell them some ocean-front property in the Midwest (sorry, George Strait, I had to switch it up a little).

DHS claims that it is going to have the private corporations analyze data and collect it in order to be “browsed” by the agency (federal sting operations with false identities are currently illegal, but the partnering operation could allow this to be done through third parties with the information being handed over to DHS), but collecting data on Americans, whether well-intentioned or not, is a violation of the First and Fourth Amendments. This is not data that otherwise would be available to the government without these corporations acting as agencies of the government itself. If this is going to become the status quo and Big Tech acts on behalf of the government, corporations behaving in this manner need to be treated as government agencies and comply with the Bill of Rights (meaning that censorship of ideas would not be tolerated, and they would not be able to access our personal information or posts without a warrant).

If we want to keep Big Brother at bay and retain what rights we still have at this point, Americans should oppose these new surveillance measures and proposals with vigor. As the Left gains more power into our lives and over the narrative, it will become increasingly difficult to resist the surveillance state at its disposal, and if the mainstream media can convince the people that the measures are necessary to keep the country safe, true freedom will become a thing of the past. If the Right does retake power, it will likely retaliate and take similar measures in an endless cycle of doom for our country. Let us prevent the further intrusions into our lives and halt the surveillance-industrial complex in its tracks.

Thank you for reading, and please check out my book, The Global Bully, and website.
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Published on May 12, 2021 14:42
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