Normally, I open my e-mail to
find such useful products and services as, "Increase Your Breast Size Naturally" and, "You Won't Believe What She Did Last
Night." I like my breasts the size that they are.
They're not great by any stretch, but they serve their purpose. After
seeing what she did last night, I can understand why these things are illegal in most industrialized countries. I'll believe almost anything now.
So, they get deleted to make room for more important things. Like the new free game software (featuring the arcade classics, such as Pong), the daily dose of "Oddly
Enough" news, and initial public offerings (IPOs) for penny stocks. Gambling
resorts in third world countries, beachfront property on islands that get leveled every two years by hurricanes. These are the pitches that I expect to see when I open up such e-mails.
Today, however, I found something that made me take notice.
"Subject: Investors: New IPO Aids Homeland Security and Law Enforcement"
These are two things that I have little reason to aid.
"Homeland Security" brings visions of wiretaps for no real reason, incarceration without legal recourse (if you're
branded an enemy combatant) complete with inhumane treatment and a dark cell. "Law
Enforcement" puts me in mind of the current crop of cops who have God complexes, and who are trained to use the seatbelt law
as an excuse for contact with citizens. (The seatbelt laws provide cops with
the means to conduct stops based on profiling without the negative repercussions.) The
law doesn't exist for the good of society. It exists to make money for the government,
and to keep the undesirable people locked safely away from the upstanding citizens who like their cookie-cutter lives and
don't like the difficult questions. Like thinking deeper about the ban on guns. "It keeps guns out of the hands of criminals, and shootings like Columbine won't happen
anymore," I've heard, on multiple occasions, from many people. Once again, and
I'm repeating an earlier statement because it is so very important to understand, THEY ARE CRIMINALS. They will get the weapons ILLEGALLY. GUN CONTROL IS ABOUT
DISARMING THE POPULACE. (Let's look at what Stalin said once again. "We dont allow our enemies to have guns, so why should we allow them to have ideas?" For those of you new to history, Stalin was the leader of the former Soviet Union after World War II. Stalin ordered the deaths of several million people.
People who lived in the Soviet Union. People who disagreed with him. Who weren't allowed to have weapons to defend themselves against their own government. Now, with the war in the Middle East well under way, anyone who speaks out against
it is "unpatriotic." How much more of a step is it from "unpatriotic" to "enemy
of the State"?)
Okay, back to the screed.
From the e-mail:
QUICK BACKGROUND: For the detection of fraud
and prevention of crime and terrorism, for legal discovery,
employment screenings and more, (the company)
provides public information
via its proprietary integrated
databases, searchable through the Internet.
From the site:
You must also
enclose a copy of a state recognized license with your application and method of payment form.
Examples of acceptable documents:
Copy of Police Department of Sheriffs Office letterhead
Copy of Private Investigators License
Copy of State Bar License
(the company) has data on approximately 98% of the adult
of the United States. Compared with its
competition, the Company believes
its proprietary service
offers clients many significant, cost-saving advantages.
One stupid question: Are the cops so incompetent
that they can't use their own files to find people? Why do they need an independent
agency to get information on people? One step back-- why do they need to get
information on people in the first place?
The prevention of crime and terrorism? Isnt
it "law ENFORCEMENT" not "thought police"? Don't we, as taxpayers, pay cops to
enforce laws that are in the process of being broken and catch the criminals who have already broken the law? Or are we going to give them broader authority, and investigate crimes that havent been committed? With a database, don't the people who have served their time for crimes committed
being unjustly watched and harassed for crimes that they might commit? At what
point do we let it go and let them lead their lives again? (This is a personal
nerve. Having had an alcohol-related conviction, cops have pulled me over for
no reason. I've been followed by cops, I've been pulled over because I have an
alcohol-related offence on my record, and they wanted to make sure that I was "staying out of trouble." I've been pulled over because the cop recognized me. Once
they have the taste of blood, they don't let go.)
Next: How secure are the "databases, searchable
through the internet"? Hackers become more sophisticated than the security protocols. They're also a strange breed. Imagine
that this database gets hacked, and suddenly you're identified as a squirrel molester.
You've committed no crime, but you still have that little tag beside your name.
And you'll never know it.
"Ninety eight percent of the adult population" in their database. The FBI doesn't get that thorough. They just look for the
people who are committing the major crimes that haven't been sanctioned by the government.
These people are selling your information to law enforcement agencies for the prevention of crime. That makes every citizen (except for the lucky few) a potential target for the pre-crime unit (oops-- that
was "Minority Report"). And what information is being gathered and used?
From the e-mail:
According to Argus Research,
in 1998 the market for
online public information was $1.5 to $2.0 billion,
is expected to more than double to $4 billion by 2003.
Who is buying this information, and for what purpose? Employers want background
checks on potential employees. Thats understandable. But what about the guy who institutionalized himself after suffering a breakdown? (Medical records arent public information. Yet.) Will that show up on the report? How marketable will he be
when employers find out about that?
Public information is a multi-billion dollar industry. Your information
is being bought and sold by people whose only motive is profit, who dont care about how it might impact your life. The right to privacy has officially been sold.
From the site, sample searches that are offered: