The Emerging Surveillance State by Ron Paul

The Emerging Surveillance State by Ron Paul


The Emerging Surveillance State

by Ron

by Ron Paul


Last month, the House
amended the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to
expand the government’s ability to monitor our private
communications. This measure, if it becomes law, will result in more
warrantless government surveillance of innocent American citizens.

Though some
opponents claimed that the only controversial part of this
legislation was its grant of immunity to telecommunications
companies, there is much more to be wary of in the bill. In the
House version, Title II, Section 801, extends immunity from
prosecution of civil legal action to people and companies including
any provider of an electronic communication service, any provider of
a remote computing service, “any other communication service
provider who has access to wire or electronic communications,” any
“parent, subsidiary, affiliate, successor, or assignee” of such
company, any “officer, employee, or agent” of any such company, and
any “landlord, custodian, or other person who may be authorized or
required to furnish assistance.” The Senate version goes even
further by granting retroactive immunity to such entities that may
have broken the law in the past.

The new FISA
bill allows the federal government to compel many more types of
companies and individuals to grant the government access to our
communications without a warrant. The provisions in the legislation
designed to protect Americans from warrantless surveillance are full
of loopholes and ambiguities. There is no blanket prohibition
against listening in on all American citizens without a warrant.

We have
been told that this power to listen in on communications is legal
and only targets terrorists. But if what these companies are being
compelled to do is legal, why is it necessary to grant them
immunity? If what they did in the past was legal and proper, why is
it necessary to grant them retroactive immunity?

In communist
East Germany, one in every 100 citizens was an informer for the
dreaded secret police, the Stasi. They either volunteered or were
compelled by their government to spy on their customers, their
neighbors, their families, and their friends. When we think of the
evil of totalitarianism, such networks of state spies are usually
what comes to mind. Yet, with modern technology, what once took tens
of thousands of informants can now be achieved by a few companies
being coerced by the government to allow it to listen in to our
communications. This surveillance is un-American.

We should
remember that former New York governor Eliot Spitzer was brought
down by a provision of the PATRIOT Act that required enhanced bank
monitoring of certain types of financial transactions. Yet we were
told that the PATRIOT Act was needed to catch terrorists, not
philanderers. The extraordinary power the government has granted
itself to look into our private lives can be used for many purposes
unrelated to fighting terrorism. We can even see how expanded
federal government surveillance power might be used to do away with
political rivals.

The Fourth
Amendment to our Constitution requires the government to have a
warrant when it wishes to look into the private affairs of
individuals. If we are to remain a free society we must defend our
rights against any governmental attempt to undermine or bypass the

See the Ron Paul File








April 8,

Dr. Ron Paul
is a Republican member of Congress from Texas.

Copyright ©

Ron Paul




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