Government on the Loose

During World War II Germany and Hitler placed restrictions upon the Jewish race. These restrictions allowed the government to infringe upon the private lives of any Jew who lived in Germany. Eventually as history shows, Hitler became a powerful and evil dictator and destroyed six million.  Hitler would not have been able to accomplish this if he had not been able to track the movement of the Jewish population in his country. More and more today, our government is following in the footsteps of this man by attempting to track and observe individuals in the United States.  Recently, they have taken the privilege of tracking our movements without our knowledge, with our cellphones without a warrant and sniffing into our emails in the name of National security. The government with the passage of the DMCA in 1998 was given the same potential power as Hitler had in World War II. The Government through the passage of the DMCA abuses its privileges, with the intrusion into personal and business Email, and their collection of private mobile tracking data.

The Government abuses its privileges given them by the passage of the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act).  The DMCA is not fulfilling its original purpose, as was passed in 1998.  “[The DMCA] is primarily designed or produced for the purpose of circumventing a technological measure that effectively controls access to a work protected under this title” (RealNetworks vs.). The DMCA is a ridiculous law because this law makes it illegal to design a screwdriver to open something. Even if the screw you are trying to unscrew is just as easily opened with your fingers. The DMCA is restricting creativity. Mr. Thierer and Mr. Crews depict this in their book Copy Fights.

“No person shall circumvent a technological measure that effectively controls access to a work protected”.

Under the title: Section 1201 Copyright Act terms bar unauthorized decryption of content creation of technological tools to violate copyright is actually the crime. The DMCA has a clause that prohibits cracking of device encryption. While avoiding copyright laws is against the law, this clause prohibits the creation of technological tools which assist in the violation of this law. This prevents professional researchers from legally determining the safety of a product because they can’t legally break open the product. This clause only hinders the law abiding citizen (147). This clause makes it difficult to understand whether one could back up a personally owned DVD video to one’s hard drive for safe keeping. Because the law is so vague, it has been under question since its introduction.

PC Magazine is a large technology magazine that defines the law as an infringement of freedom. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act is a U.S. law enacted in late 1998 that provides penalties for developing hardware or software that overrides copy protection schemes for digital media. The DMCA is considered a very controversial law by many who see it as an infringement to freedom (PC Mag). Even a common technology encyclopedia defines this law as restrictive of people’s freedoms. Because of the vagueness Real Networks resorted to the court system. Real Networks sued  DVD CCA in order to receive “a declaratory judgment that Real Networks has neither breached its license agreement with DVD CCA nor violated the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, 17 United States Code sections 1201 et seq. (‘DMCA’) by manufacturing and distributing its ‘RealDVD’ product” (Real Networks). This court case is an example of the vagueness of the DMCA. Real networks were trying to take the legal route in order to convert a DVD to its virtual counterpart. They were then counter sued and finally after more than a year of negotiations, they have now pulled Real DVD from their product line.

The Government abuses its privileges by their intrusion into personal and business email. The National Security Agency has recently been inspected for their surveillance program which intercepts private telephone and email messages of citizens.  James Risen and Eric Lichtblau from the New York Times also see this act of the NSA as unconstitutional. Their monitoring of emails specifically has caused a land- slide of legal issues.  Congressional committees have been analyzing the NSA when it was revealed that their intercepts of private American communications exceeded constitutional boundaries. As a result of the reports, Congress is troubled by the NSA’s negligent character and their intrusive attitude.  It has been reported that the NSA examined copious amounts of American’s personal and business email unwarranted (RISEN). The NSA has always been perceived as an organization that is intrusive. Even government officials find it hard to understand its legal involvement in security. Representative Rush Holt, Democrat of New Jersey, and chairman of the House Select Intelligence Oversight Panel, has been involved in the NSA investigation and is disturbed by the Justice Department and national security officials’ explanation that the NSA’s actions are inadvertent.  He believes they are so blatant that they can’t possibly be accidental.  Mr. Holt also explains that the technicalities involved are so significant that lawmakers can’t possibly understand what the agency is actually involved in… The many incidents of the NSA’s intrusion cannot be accidental. Steve Chapman from the Chicago Tribune states how the NSA is not upholding the fourth amendment. The court did nothing until 1967 to correct the misinterpretation of the constitution.  “It ruled that ‘the Fourth Amendment protects people, not places,’ including those things a person ‘seeks to preserve as private, even in an area accessible to the public'”(Chapman 2). Chapman explains that privacy is not limited to Private Places, but is extended to privacy when one is in public. Because the NSA is allowed to intrude into the lives of individuals it lowers the standard for local government officials and their investigations. One of the tools they use is an unwarranted mobile phone tracking data. The Government abuses its privileges by their collection of private mobile tracking data. As reported in The Chicago Tribune by Mr. Chapman anyone with a cell phone can be tracked.

Today most of us carry an item with us that track our every movement whether we like it or not. Our cell phones provide information for the federal government that they use usually without a warrant. They can access current data as well as past information including information about the people who we have called or who have called us. Because this information is so accessible there are organizations asking Congress to require law enforcements to obtain search warrants before being allowed cell phone data. Since there will never be enough law enforcement to carry out the momentous amount of monitoring the police utilize the convenience of cell phones to conduct endless surveillance that is both vast and intimate (Chapman 1).  If you watch show like NCIS you will probably see the one of the agents use someone’s cell phone to track where they are. They really can (at least in a technological standpoint) do that. How is this legal you may ask?  On Leo Laporte’s TWiT network one of their podcasts, TWiL, is on tech Law. In a discussion they had on February 16, 2010, they discuss how this is achieved. The government determines your phone number. Then they ask the service provider to provide the data containing what will be information telling them where one lives, works, plays, and drives.  Under the stored communications act, the government took the quick route to receiving said data (Howell). They have many ways to retrieve this information.  One of the ways to do this is though one’s cell phone.  Near the end of ’07, the government applied for permission to seek location data from one’s phone, “without showing probable cause that tracking the individual would turn up evidence of a crime”. This request was rejected by a magistrate judge in late ’08. Recently the government is appealing the dictions. “According to Newsweek, the hearing will represent the first time a federal appellate court has heard arguments on the legality of the data-collecting methods (Jones). The government has more frequently started to step over the lines of one’s right to privacy. In his article, Steve Chapman argues his point that sums up this issue quite well.  “Privacy protections can become meaningless if we don’t adapt them to new inventions” (Chapman).

As mentioned earlier the result of Hitler’s power to intrude into the lives of private citizens was the death of six million Jews. Because Hitler brought fear to the individual, no one would question his power. Today people do not realize that our government is taking authority that it should not take. Lives of private individuals should not be monitored by the federal government. In order to maintain our freedom, we should enforce the limiting power of the federal government. By the collection of private mobile tracking data and the intrusion into personal and business Email and through the passage of the DMCA, the government has abused its privileges.

Works Cited

Chapman, Steve. “Big Brother in Your Cell.” Chicago Tribune. 31 Mar. 2010. Web. 21 Apr. 2010. <http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2010-03-31/news/ct-oped-0401-chapman-20100331_1_search-warrant-big-brother-service-providers>.

“DMCA.” PC Mag Encyclopedia. New York: Ziff Davis Holdings Inc. Web. 21 Apr. 2010. <http://www.pcmag.com/encyclopedia_term/0,2542,t=DMCA&i=41604,00.asp>.

Howell, Denise, Ernie Svenson, David O’Brien, and Ben Snitkoff. “TWiL 47: Felix Unger Wisdom.” Audio blog post. TWiL 47: Felix Unger Wisdom. Ed. Leo Leporte. TWiT LLC., 16 Feb. 2010. Web. 17 Feb. 2010. <Http://twit.tv/twil47>.

Jones, Ashby. “On the FBI, the Fourth Amendment and Your Cell Phone.” The Wall Street Journal Law Blog. 11 Feb. 2010. Web. 2 May 2010. <http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2010/02/11/on-the-fbi-the-fourth-amendment-and-your-cell-phone/>.

RealNetworks vs. DVD Copy Control Association. U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. 11 Aug. 2010. Print.

Risen, James, and Eric Lichtblau. “E-Mail Surveillance Renews Concerns in Congress.” The New York Times 16 June 2009. The New York Times. 16 June 2009. Web. 21 Apr. 2010. <http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/17/us/17nsa.html>.

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