For a long time, those who run the United States have made it a point to gather as much information on citizens as it can, with or without their consent, with or without their knowledge, and always with the condescending attitude that it is necessary to protect us from an ambiguous enemy. This year especially, the extent to which our supposedly benevolent protectors went to invade and observe our lives is apparent.
Early in 2013, there was much talk of CISPA, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing And Protection Act, a law that would essentially legalize spying on the online activities of millions, all for the sake of “security.” Of course, “security” for the average citizen whose privacy would be egregiously violated was not on the agenda. Without a warrant, anything a U.S. resident posts online would become automatically available to the U.S. government. Messages on Facebook, a progressive blog on Tumblr, specific search histories on Google, and many other online expressions of our very lives would be available to any government "analyst."
While CISPA never made it past the U.S. House, in mid-2013 we found out that it didn’t matter: Those in power had been stealing our private information and watching our activities all along. Several national and international newspapers released information leaked by the hero Edward Snowden, information indicating that the NSA has been spying on residents of the U.S. for years, with little oversight and absolutely no transparency. Dozens of U.S. corporations were also voluntarily giving the NSA access to their data, willfully turning over information that by any standard should remain private.
The Justice Department has directly attacked the freedom of the press and the privacy necessary to do their valuable work. In May 2013, the Department of Justice seized the phone records and emails of Associated Press journalists, an act reviled by both the public and the press worldwide.
This all comes after years of spying on the online activities of those within our borders using programs instituted by the George W. Bush administration, in collusion with multinational communications corporations. And it further adds to the well-worn tools of more traditional government repression such as infiltration of progressive and anti-war group, as well as manufacturing terroristic plots in order to charge and convict those entrapped by government agents.
Students for a Democratic Society stand for civil rights and liberties. We oppose any infringement upon the right to privacy, either online, in the home, in public or otherwise. We both condemn the intrusions committed by governments and corporate executives, and praise the heroes who attempt to expose the truth such as Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden.
These examples, as well as many more, of repression through invasion of privacy are a shameful infringement on our rights. Any bill that proposes ideas like CISPA or SOPA, or any activity that enacts them outside the rule of law should be vigilantly opposed. SDS stands in solidarity with groups working around the clock to maintain the safety of our privacy both on- and off-line.