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The Tyranny of Ambiguity

By: Matthew Ensor

In the world of government spying programs, what warrants the term “terrorist activity?”

What exactly should grab the attention of intelligence personnel? What information should analysts delve through? International phone calls? Social media posts? Nude photographs?

In late July, Senator Wyden (D-Ore.) blocked the passing of the 2016 Intelligence Authorization Bill, due to a provision added by Diane Feinstein (D-Cal.). In the provision, it requires communications providers to inform intelligence agencies of any and all “terrorist activity” that takes place on their network.

But just what is “terrorist activity?”

To most people, it only means a legitimate plot against other persons. But vague wording used in bills such as this casts the net much wider. This ‘open for interpretation’ type of legislating opens the door for all kinds of government snooping. Before we know it, “terrorist activity” becomes anything from pro-life activism to personal opinions about a particular political party. Before we know it, the little man gets trampled.

This not only opens the door for the government to snoop around in your personal business, but it also detracts from the value of the information that could be of use to these agencies. Every nugget of information devalues the original information, leading analysts down rabbit holes that lead nowhere but through your Facebook newsfeed. When searching for a needle in a haystack, adding more hay is not the right course of action.

Legislation that promotes the bulk collection of personal data, whether by the intelligence agencies themselves, or by proxy through communications companies, not only harms our liberty, but our safety as well, as agencies charged with the protection of the American people are bogged down in mountains of useless data.

We are rapidly finding our privacy crushed under the heel of the tyranny of ambiguity.

For more information on how to stop government spying through state action, click HERE.

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