Wednesday, January 07, 2004

The Long Sneaky Arm of the Law

In an update to a story reported previously on TBW Journal, Wired is running a feature on the new powers the feds acquired through the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2004. It expands their ability to acquire, without a warrant, personal information from businesses including "insurance companies, travel agencies, real estate agents, stockbrokers, the U.S. Postal Service, jewelry stores, casinos and car dealerships". And not only are the feds not required to inform their suspects, the businesses themselves are forbidden by law from disclosing to their customers that their information was turned over. Yikes! Meanwhile we have at least one confirmed case where that Patriot Act was used to investigate a non-terrorism related case. Additionally, over the holidays the Feds took advantage of the new provisions by grabbing reams of data on all visitors to Vegas. Sounds ripe for abuse, but are the American people disturbed? The three everyman quotes in that last article speak volumes: "Anything they do is a good thing. I have no problems with it." "'s justified because they have to take every precaution after 9-11." "In today's world, it makes sense for the FBI to look at these lists, and they'd be crazy if they didn't do it."

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