BIG BROTHER IS INDEED WATCHING…by dstringer

Recent events in Washington would definitely support the fact that the already massive scale of surveillance in place to keep us safe is not enough. Now, the governmet believes it needs greater access to our computers, even if that means majorly stepping all over our privacy and constitutional rights.

Most recently, a little-noticed judicial rule change would give the FBI greater powers to conduct remote searches, and CISA (Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act) -- the "zombie bill"...aptly named because it refuses to stay dead -- breezed through a committee vote in the Senate. PCNA (Protecting Cyber Networks Act), a companion bill in the House, unanimously passed committee last month.

The Department of Justice set in motion a proposal to change Rule 41 of Civil Procedure, which governs how judges issue search warrants on electronic devices. Under the updated rule, the FBI could obtain blanket warrants entitling it to remotely examine computers located anywhere, without specific justification and without being required to give users notice of its searches. The current rule lets judges approve warrants only for specific material within their judicial district.

The FBI wants expanded authority to infiltrate computer networks and install tracking software. But privacy groups -- and others vested in Fourth Amendment constitutional rights -- are opposed to the change.

The Fourth Amendment (Amendment IV) to the United States Constitution is the part of the Bill of Rights that prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures and requires any warrant to be judicially sanctioned and supported by probable cause.

Even Google recently shared comments of opposition regarding the proposal.

The tech giant asserted that the new rule could be used not only in botnet investigations, but could affect any business that works with a VPN to keep users' information secure. Because a VPN can obscure the actual location of a network, Google said, it could be subject to a remote search warrant under the new rule, where it would not have been otherwise.

Is there truly a need for the government to be so "infiltrative?"  Is there such a "Wild West-like" atmosphere out there brought about by terrorists and cybercrime, that United States citizens must slowly, deliberately, and somewhat calculatingly...sacrifice our rights and privileges that are promised to us by our country's forefathers in exchange for safety, security and peace of mind?  And, consider this...if these subtle changes in our basic constitutional rights are so necessary, why are they not discussed in open forums and possibly brought to a vote with the collective, rather than being chipped away behind closed doors in Washington?  For that matter, is what we hear or read on these subjects mostly fact?  Or is it laced with propaganda, strategically placed fear tactics to incite compliance from the masses.

It IS a dangerous world out there...of that there is no doubt.  But will it take ultimately sacrificing all of our freedoms to combat the threats we face in today's society? Where do YOU stand on this issue?  We welcome your comments!