Privacy policies are a lot like parachutes. They’re useless until you need them, and then, if they don’t work, you’re out of luck. Welcome to the new Amerika, and a snapshot of the greatest crime in modern history.
If calling PRISM the greatest crime in modern history seems sensationalist, pause for a minute and consider U.S. reactions to China, Iran, or Russia violating the rights and freedoms of their own citizens within their own borders. American cries of communism, dictatorship, and human rights violations are shouted from the rooftops of Capitol Hill. The media goes into a feeding frenzy, and oppressed bloggers are regularly granted asylum. In the most extreme cases, sanctions are even imposed on entire nations. This is because Americans know freedom better than anyone else. We understand that those sorts of rights violations only happen in the worst countries, where their citizens are not afforded the protection of a document like the U.S. Constitution. That leaves them unable to defend themselves, and subject to the whims of corrupt and morally bankrupt governments.
Of course, if you’ve been keeping up with the news, that is exactly what PRISM has done to the American people. However, unlike communist nations and dictators, who typically reserve violations of basic rights for their own citizens, the U.S. Government took it a step further. It violated the rights of the entire world.
What is surprising is that after years of legislation and legal action around the world concerning anti-trust and privacy, everyone is largely ignoring the fact that the companies aiding the U.S. Government with PRISM knowingly acted criminally in violating privacy policies. Put another way, a group of companies that includes the largest and most trusted Internet, mobile, software, and web search facilitators in the world all knowingly broke the law.
Unfortunately, in the case of PRISM, the U.S. Government compelled these companies to break the law, and therefore it technically has no grounds to penalize them for their crimes. That doesn’t change the fact that they knowingly violated federal, state and international law, as privacy policies are legally binding. However, what it does do is lay the groundwork for an unprecedented change in the very fabric of America. That change comes in the form of further erosion of states’ rights. Legally, PRISM violated the rights of every state and citizen therein. Despite this, not one state has taken or even discussed taking direct legal action against the Federal Government or these companies, with much of the mainstream media completely sidestepping the issue.
To better understand why this is such a problem, one needs to examine the basic arguments on which the United States was founded. Put simply, it was to be a more perfect union of states. Each state would be free to govern itself within the confines of a set of rules established by a majority-elected and controlled government. That meant that each state would be more or less responsible for itself, with the federal government granted powers meant only to maintain the union that kept them together. PRISM is the single most egregious breach of that trust to have occurred in the history of the United States. No state has been unaffected by it, yet they have all elected to remain largely silent on the issue.
Sadly this continues a pattern of apathy on part of the states that began with the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Amendments. These Amendments marked a turning point in U.S. history, when individual rights as recognized by the Declaration of Independence were traded by the states for the sake of convenience.
Much like feeding sheep to a hungry wolf, these rights were quickly consumed by the federal government. Concerned with their own management, states largely abandoned their constitutionally mandated responsibility to manage and limit the appetite of the federal government, allowing it to grow unchecked for nearly 100 years. Fattened on the rights of individuals and states, and hungry for more, that wolf has now become a monster. It shows complete disregard for the America intended by the Constitution, and worse, citizens and states alike are afraid to confront it for fear of being eaten.
When considering these facts, it is important to note the use of the word “recognized“ in conjunction with a reference to individual rights. America was founded on the principle that certain rights were inalienable, and therefore beyond the power of any government or earthly body to grant. Instead, a government could only recognize those particular rights. Further, the establishment of a government by individuals was primarily for the purpose of protecting those rights. Therefore, even without a U.S. Constitution or an America, the rights of an individual remain unchanged. The fact that Americans continue to sacrifice their lives in foreign lands to protect and defend the rights of others against tyranny is proof that this idea still exists, yet it is in direct opposition to everything PRISM represents.
Now the American people and the leaders they have elected to protect these rights have chosen to remain in their homes and do nothing. There are minor and relatively frivolous lawsuits in the neighborhood of $20 billion being discussed, which almost any of the named companies could shrug off with on-hand cash reserves. The entire federal government is a body created by the states, and therefore accountable to the states and citizens therein, and it is the states that should be leading this charge, not the ACLU.
This apathy is what has enabled the federal government to become the very thing the United States was established in protest of. The citizens and leaders of America should be up in arms over this, as it is on par with the tyranny of England that sparked the American Revolution. The collective apathy of the average American on these matters borders on criminal. Should the states elect to do nothing and remain silent, it will quite possibly be the beginning of the end of the United States as intended by the founding fathers.
If that happens, it will be recorded by history as the point when America ceased to exist and became the United Socialist States of America.
Image Credits: Feature Image: ’Flag Retirement Ceremony‘ Article Image: ‘PRISM‘ Article Image: ‘Cuffs‘ Article Image: ‘Julian Assange Wikileaks named Man of the Year by Le Monde Found On: flickrcc.net, and Wikimedia Commons