The Department of Homeland Security’s “See Something, Say Something” program was criticized by the left and right when it was implemented early in President Obama’s first term, though mostly, Republicans were skeptical of its aim.
It was Orwellian. It smacked of a Big Brother surveillance state. Some might have even compared it to similar programs in Communist regimes like China. And when then-NSA contractor Edward Snowden exposed the federal government’s massive power to spy on every American electronically, See Something, Say Something became even more controversial.
But that was then.
Today, Republicans are working with Democrats to implement new legislation that would require big tech to spy on our social media posts, all under the guise of keeping the country ‘safe’ from ‘domestic terrorists,’ of course.
Reason magazine reports:
A new bill revitalizes the war on terror’s favorite slogan in service of forcing tech companies to turn over more user data to the government. The “See Something, Say Something Online Act,” introduced by Sen. Joe Manchin (D–W.Va.) and co-sponsored by Sen. John Cornyn (R–Texas), is the latest attack on the federal communications law known as Section 230 as well as freedom of speech and online privacy.
The legislation says any interactive computer service provider—that means social media giants, small blogs, podcast hosting services, app stores, consumer review platforms, independent political forums, crowdfunding and Patreon-style sites, dating apps, newsletter services, and much more—will lose Section 230 protections if they fail to report any known user activity that might be deemed “suspicious.”
“Suspicious” content is defined as any post, private message, comment, tag, transaction, or “any other user-generated content or transmission” that government officials later determine “commits, facilitates, incites, promotes, or otherwise assists the commission of a major crime.” Major crimes are defined as anything involving violence, domestic, or international terrorism, or a “serious drug offense.”
For each suspicious post, services must submit a Suspicious Transmission Activity Report (STAR) within 30 days, providing the user’s name, location, and other identifying information, as well as any relevant metadata.
“Those submitting the user surveillance reports would henceforth be barred from talking about or even acknowledging the existence of them. STARs would also be exempt from Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests,” the magazine noted.
So, reporters are not only required to keep such reports secret from users who are being reported, but they are also not required to be transparent under the provisions of a law that mandates transparency.
George Orwell is somewhere laughing his assets off.
What is prompting this, you ask? A fabrication — of course.
Like Democrats used the coronavirus pandemic as justification to trample the Bill of Rights and destroy businesses save for their ‘preferred’ corporate masters, now lawmakers in both parties are employing the fabricated narrative of “insurrection” at the Capitol last month to push a mandatory spy law for social media.
Gee, what will qualify as ‘suspicious’ commentary and content? Talk of QAnon? A stolen 2020 election? Discussion about how Trump supporters are being targeted for ‘spreading disinformation’ (disinfo being whatever the governing elite say it is)? All of the above?
We are living in dangerous times, fellow Americans; this kind of stuff isn’t supposed to happen here.
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Author: Jonathan Davis