Friday, August 1, 2008

Dear Senator Sam Brownback

Dear Senator Brownback,

Thank you for your vigilance and act of public service warning foreign visitors to China’s Olympics that they face the danger of “invasive intelligence gathering” if they were to use the Internet during their stay.

Actually, as you know very well, American visitors are already accustomed to the kind of surveillances you object to, thanks to their own experiences at home by the hands of Homeland Security. You were among those who authorized the department listening in on our own citizens' telephone conversations, reading our emails and who knows what else.

So far as you are concerned, invasion of one’s privacy at home in the name of anti terrorism is just data mining, but when China is trying to monitor any illicit activities during arguably the most vulnerable times, it would be spying.

That the U.S. government has been infringing on our rights to privacy is an established fact. That visitors to China might be subject to same sort of surveillance is not a fact but merely based on your astute speculation.

Given that China will be hosting the most hotly debated and most attended sporting event ever held anywhere in the world and given the current threat of global terrorism, can anyone seriously doubt that close monitoring to ameliorate acts of terror would be in place?

Why stop at the Internet? China will also have a nightmare task monitoring text messaging on the 500 million plus cell phones that will be in use to make sure that activities of terrorist groups are stopped dead on its tracks.

How to stay out of trouble while visiting the Olympics? Simple. Just as one would not board a plane and joke about carrying a bomb on board, one would also not send provocative messages while in China during the most sensitive period of massive tourism.

Seriously, Senator Brownback, political grandstanding aside, what would the U.S. government do differently if we were the host of Olympics instead of China? Given the current paranoia, are you suggesting that our monitoring procedure would be any less extensive?

See Good Morning Silicon Valley for a full description of how Homeland Security treats laptops belonging to foreign visitors.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

9-11 changed America's surveillance stance from cautiously egomaniacal to paranoidal. The convenient target provided by Senator Brownback should not deter Americans from holding all our elected officials to their responsibility of upholding our right to pursue true American ideals of freedom, liberty, and pursuit of happiness, including our right -- and our responsibility -- to question those who seek to thwart what this nation was founded on hundreds of years ago.