Tuesday, April 27, 2010

It's Time to Stop Government Reading of Our Emails

The abuse by government of emails has to stop. I'm pretty much convinced that you can convict anyone of a criminal act, if you read enough of a person's emails. There have just been too many cases of governments demanding thousands of emails, where they eventually end up cherry picking a few that they release to the public, to dirty a jury pool for an upcoming show trial .

The latest evidence of this is the "show hearing" of Senator Carl Levin's Permanent Committee on Investigations. The hearings of Goldman Sachs activities during the financial crisis should chill freedom lovers everywhere. Goldman Sachs was forced to turn over some two million documents to the committee. In those documents, the committee found roughly five emails that they misinterpreted in a negative fashion. The emails were explained by the writers of them, once an opportunity during testimony was provided to put context to the emails. But, the damage was done. The released emails by the congressional committee, and similar distorting emails by a somewhat parallel bogus SEC fraud charge,, grabbed the headlines, days before.  I have to think many corporate execs watching the hearings thought to themselves, "Boy, I better watch what I write in emails so that I don't put something down that can be misinterpreted." And so, a kind of self censorship takes place. Execs will think twice about what they write, and simply will use email less often to express themselves.

One of the evils of the old Soviet Union was the possibility that you could be watched, spied upon or taped, at anytime. This causes people to act differently than they normally would. Indeed, I believe it kills part of a  person. Under such circumstances, there is a constant monitoring by you of your own acts. Spontaneity goes out the window. This is no way to live. The ability of government regulatory bodies to demand to read our emails  introduces this Soviet style chilling effect to our lives.

Some time ago, in an open letter to Ron Paul, I proposed the THE RELIEF FROM WHISPERING ACT, and wrote:

Quite simply private correspondence is at the heart of freedom, no one should have to think twice about whether some government authority will at some future date demand copies of a person's emails. Correspondence is an extension of our minds and our souls, to others. If we are not free to correspond without the threat that some regulatory body may look at such emails in the future, people will start hedging on what they write. They will fear an email getting into the wrong hands. How are we to then know what others really think, unless we meet them in some dark ally and whisper? I propose that The Relief From Whispering Act ban the ability of government agencies to use and acquire emails for any reason at any time.
Only the person writing an email, or the recipient, should have the right to introduce an email in a court proceeding. Let's bring back life, spontaniety and freedom to all emails, and ban government snoopers from getting anywhere near them.

1 comment:

  1. Hi bob -

    Haven't been watching the goldman hearings so thanks for this update

    The amount of confusion is terrible.
    If you want a particularly aggravating piece of agitprop, inserting all the usual bogus memes into the debate, check out Taibbi's piece in The Guardian. Everytime I begin to forget about the guy's plagiarism and try to judge him on his merits, he writes something cringe worthy like this:

    Ayn Rand is the patron saint of Goldman Sachs and Greenspan, who are the evil faces of capitalism, the system of greed without limits, which is patronized by pissy-assed suburban whites whose tea parties are all about not wanting to pay for services for minorities...

    Yikes...like all minorities are waiting for whites to pay anything for them. Like what Greenspan did has anything to do with free markets. Like Rand was about fraud and theft.

    And like potty-mouthed liberals aren't every bit as greedy and unethical in their fields as anyone on Wall Street ever was...