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Like Rearranging the Deck Chairs on the…Well, You Know

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July 9, 2008

So all three amendments to the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, a.k.a. the end of your Fourth Amendment rights, have failed. We now wait for the Senate to return from lunch so they can put the final nail in privacy’s coffin. Ouch.

Today, Caroline Fredrickson, Director of the ACLU’s Washington Legislative Office, said it best today in Huffington Post:

This [new legislation] represents a fundamental shift in the notions of freedom and democracy that have defined our nation for well over 200 years. Americans will no longer have any expectation of privacy in our communications – leading many to be fearful about what they say and write so it is not misconstrued by some computer data mining program or overzealous government agent.

That fearfulness is what we often refer to as the “chilling effect,” something anyone who has traveled on an airplane since 9/11 knows very well. I was once sitting on plane waiting for it to taxi to the gate, chatting on my phone to my cousin about work, and the word “terrorist” nearly escaped my lips. I did catch myself, but that’s the chilling effect. It’s self-censorship, and thanks to Congress’s capitulation today to the White House, all Americans who talk on the phone or email will know it well.

So say good-bye to the Fourth Amendment. Nice knowin’ ya!

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