Analysis: Government’s Vast Lockers Of Data Threaten Basic Individual Freedoms

Major Garrett | Nextgov | June 12, 2013

I’m going to try to tie together strands of information NSA-style and see if a pattern emerges. I will be looking for signs that America’s historic definition and understanding of privacy are being eroded. I will also try to understand if that erosion could fundamentally alter an individual American’s relationship to government power.

Privacy is not the only definition of individual freedom. But freedom cannot exist in a world where search and seizure without suspicion or probable cause does. Freedom is merely a word, and its definition a putrid joke in a world where a life’s history—encoded in DNA alleles or via Internet or telephone communications—resides forever in a vast government database.

Last week visited upon the country the latest, but by no means the first, examples of ever-expanding government powers to collect data on innocents and keep it for extended periods of time and on the government’s terms. One example was surveillance. The other was in obtaining DNA swabs from arrestees. The first example raised considerable alarms. The second did not. Make no mistake, both are a threat to individual freedom, and both will feed the coming Storage Wars. Those wars will be fought over definitional American legal terrain—what that is uniquely yours belongs to you, and what belongs to the government for how long and why.