Posts Tagged ‘Surveillance State’
May 16, 2013 BORDC
Over the next several weeks, the Senate Judiciary Committee will consider Comprehensive Immigration Reform (S744), which would include a mandatory E-Verify system. E-Verify is an internet-based program accessed by employers when processing new hires. It compares information from an Employee’s Eligibility Verification Form I-9 to data from U.S. government records. The potential for E-Verify to become compulsory is quite controversial for several reasons – namely its disregard for personal privacy, the unnecessary obstacles it imposes to employment, and the fundamental change that it would signify in the relationship between U.S. government and U.S. citizen.
While allegedly created to target undocumented individuals, E-Verify would negatively affect documented U.S. citizens as well. Every job applicant would have to face an E-Verify background check, and unless the system is 100% accurate 100% of the time, these background checks will become a nightmare. Chris Calabrese, Senior Legislative Counsel with the American Civil Liberties Union explains:
When you make a giant list of everybody who’s able to work in the United States, that list has to be completely accurate, because if there are mistakes in it, the result is those mistakes – those mistaken people can’t work.
These citizens will be required to petition the government to correct the mistake, creating a bureaucratic nightmare that will likely stall their job hunting process by weeks (if not longer). Calabrese calls this the “prove yourself to work” system that will hurt ordinary citizens. This signifies a fundamental shift in relationship between government and populace – no longer are we innocent until proven guilty. We are now guilty until proven worthy of a job. Gone will be the days of applying for a job, waiting on a quick background check, and becoming employed – now all citizens will have to wait for I-9s to be verified against a massive list of personal information housed by the government.
Beyond undue obstacles to employment lies an even more frightening truth about E-Verify: the invasion of privacy. Shahid Buttar wrote in a previous article that Comprehensive Immigration Reform would likely become a Trojan Horse for larger government surveillance, and E-Verify is just one manifestation of that government surveillance. Involving the government in something as routine as application for employment unnecessarily involves political bureaucracy in one’s personal life. More disconcerting, though, is the fact that so much personal information would be available from a single database – a dream for identity thieves.
E-Verify is but one example of how the new programs proposed in Comprehensive Immigration Reform would affect all U.S. citizens, not merely a small percentage of undocumented individuals. Like Next Generation Initiative (NGI), which would track individuals from city to city, scan not just fingerprints but irises and scars to help track and identify individuals, E-Verify signifies a broadening state of surveillance. In an article about NGI’s expansion of biometric databases, Alternet wrote, “Advancements in the collection of biometric data are double-edged: there’s the treat of a massive government surveillance infrastructure working too well – e.g., surveillance state – and there are concerns about its weaknesses, especially in keeping data secure.” The same can be said for E-Verify; it would likely be the gateway to a growing surveillance state, and the information stored within E-Verify would be susceptible to hacking. While this country is in dire need of Comprehensive Immigration Reform, we must be wary of “enforcement-first” immigration policies like NGI and E-Verify, which will only infringe on the rights of American citizens.
02/10/2011 by Juan Cole
It is no secret that President Barack Obama has been in some regards a profound disappointment to the American Left, and his erratic and often disgraceful performance on the Egypt crisis exemplifies his faults in this regard. (Tom Engelhardt puts it best regarding the administration: “It has shown itself to be weak, visibly fearful, at a loss for what to do, and always several steps behind developing events.”) Obama just seems to lack empathy with the little people and is unwilling to buck the rich and powerful, even though they all opposed his run for the presidency. As Iran’s speaker of the house put it, the Obama administration, faced with a choice of supporting the youth revolution or the camels unleashed on it, has chosen the camels. It makes a person think there should be rule that no one can run for the presidency who didn’t have a proper father figure in his or her life (Bill Clinton, W., Obama), since apparently once they get into office they start thinking the billionaires are their long-lost parent, whom they have to bend over backward to please.
Obama dealt with the Wall Street crisis by rewarding with more billions the corrupt and/or grossly incompetent financiers who threw millions of Americans out of work and out of their homes, and by appointing persons to deal with the crisis who had been among its instigators. He declined to end the abuses against the Bill of Rights of the Orwellian-named ‘PATRIOT Act,’ even though he had a Democratic House and Senate. Indeed, the Left was put in the humiliating position of being grateful to Michelle Bachman for helping do what Obama would not, when she and other Tea Party Republicans joined the principled Democrats in the House to decline to extend the human rights abuses embedded in that infamous Act.
“we have a Secret Government of 854,000 people, so vast and so secret that nobody knows what it does or what it is. That there is a virtually complete government/corporate merger when it comes to the National Security and Surveillance State is indisputable”
It is unsurprising that the 9/11 attack fostered a massive expansion of America’s already sprawling Surveillance State. But what is surprising, or at least far less understandable, is that this growth shows no signs of abating even as we approach almost a full decade of emotional and temporal distance from that event. The spate of knee-jerk legislative expansions in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 trauma — the USA-PATRIOT Act — has actually been exceeded by the expansions of the last several years — first secretly and lawlessly by the Bush administration, and then legislatively and out in the open once Democrats took over control of the Congress in 2006. Simply put, there is no surveillance power too intrusive or unaccountable for our political class provided the word “terrorism” is invoked to “justify” those powers.
The More-Surveillance-Is-Always-Better Mindset
Illustrating this More-Surveillance-is-Always-Better mindset is what happened after The New York Times revealed in December, 2005 that the Bush administration had ordered the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on American citizens without the warrants required by law and without any external oversight at all. Despite the fact that the 30-year-old FISA law made every such act of warrantless eavesdropping a felony, “punishable by a fine of not more than $10,000 or imprisonment for not more than five years, or both,” and despite the fact that all three federal judges who ruled on the program’s legality concluded that it was illegal, there was no accountability of any kind. The opposite is true: the telecom corporations which enabled and participated in this lawbreaking were immunized by a 2008 law supported by Barack Obama and enacted by the Democratic Congress. And that same Congress twice legalized the bulk of the warrantless eavesdropping powers which The New York Times had exposed: first with the 2007 Protect America Act, and then with the 2008 FISA Amendments Act, which, for good measure, even added new warrantless surveillance authorities.