Press statement: David Anderson QC’s new report is an incomplete analysis of the case for mass…
Privacy International
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Perhaps the least discussed and most significant objection to such surveillance powers is how it can be abused to coerce government officials into doing the will of the spy agencies. What is frightening, however, is how mass surveillance could be used to exert undue influence over government officials. J. Edgar Hoover is said to have used his files on each president from FDR to Nixon to protect his position and keep his power effectively unchecked. Imagine if he had had the NSA’s database on those presidents and on members of Congress. What empire could he have built? Today, the NSA has at least the theoretical power to coerce members of congress to fund their projects by threatening to out them with things in their database. Has it happened? Don’t know and probably never will know. What would it look like? It would look like what happened to Anthony Weiner. Someone who did not play ball with them would have their shameful activities outed. Those who did play ball would be able to do business as usual, such as Diane Feinstein. What else would it look like? You’d see massive funding and almost unfettered activity. Not saying that is what happened, only that this is what it would look like. We would see nothing that we don’t already see, but presidents and members of congress would be bullied into accepting the will of those with the powers, and those who don’t play ball would be taken down. That scenario is far scarier than the inconvenience of having the government spy on average citizens. While I’d prefer not to live in a state that had intrusive spying power over its citizens, that is a convenience/prefrence. But what they could do to control the government with those powers is a threat to the very system that we so highly value.

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