Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Today I got an interesting tip from a Facebook friend. She touched base with me in light of some recent government hits to Motivation: Truth.
When I was in Alaska this summer, I got a hit that really caused my eyes to bulge out. It was in the midst of a plethora of hits over a couple days, resulting from the picture I took of Governor Palin holding Mark Levin's book, Liberty and Tyranny, at the Wasilla Governor's Picnic. I posted it on my blog, along with several other pictures, and someone got ahold of it. It went everywhere. Read that blog post and see the famous picture here.
That's how I first touched base with Dan Riehl of Riehl World View. He blogged about it in a post called "Meet Adrienne Ross." You can read his post here. Shortly thereafter, Mark Levin gave Motivation: Truth and the picture a shout-out on his radio show. You can hear that shout-out here (about 2:48 into the broadcast) and see he posted the picture with a great caption about the Governor and Katie Couric by clicking here. American Thinker also posted the picture and commented on it. Check that out here.
Then came the visit to my blog from the Executive Office Of The President USA, appearing in my stats exactly in that manner. I was blown away. What in the world would they be doing visiting my blog?
I received no other visits from them that I can recall until a couple months ago. They entered my blog through a Google search for "Track Palin," and they clicked on my post called "God is Good; Track Palin Comes Home." Read it here. I couldn't help but wonder why the Executive Office Of The President USA would be interested in Governor Palin's son.
That was it for a while.
Now it's started again. Last week, I got yet another visit from the Executive Office Of The President USA. This time they came through a Google search for "Adrienne Ross"! What in the world?
This was followed last week by hits from the Bureau of Economic Analysis. They hit me again yesterday.
Last week there was another interesting search, which led to another visit to Motivation: Truth. It was the US Senate this time, and they came to my site through a Google search for "Sarah Palin quotes the military" or something like that.
This creepy activity causes me to ask a few questions. Why is our government so interested in Governor Palin? (Well, we already know the answer to that question, don't we?) Why are they interested in her son being home from Iraq? Why do they care what she has to say about the military? And why in the world are they interested in me? Perhaps an even more pressing question is: why don't agencies, like the Executive Office Of The President USA and the US Senate, have hidden IP addresses? One would think they wouldn't want everyone knowing where they've been spending their time.
I certainly don't know the answer to those questions (well, except the first one!), but the article link I received earlier today from Kim really is fascinating. It seems there's some real government monitoring going on. I'm not saying that's what's going on in my situation, but I am saying in light of the recent hits, it's rather interesting.
The NY Times reports (emphasis added):
The government is increasingly monitoring Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites for tax delinquents, copyright infringers and political protesters. A public interest group has filed a lawsuit to learn more about this monitoring, in the hope of starting a national discussion and modifying privacy laws as necessary for the online era.
Law enforcement is not saying a lot about its social surveillance, but examples keep coming to light. The Wall Street Journal reported this summer that state revenue agents have been searching for tax scofflaws by mining information on MySpace and Facebook. In October, the F.B.I. searched the New York home of a man suspected of helping coordinate protests at the Group of 20 meeting in Pittsburgh by sending out messages over Twitter.
In some cases, the government appears to be engaged in deception. The Boston Globe recently quoted a Massachusetts district attorney as saying that some police officers were going undercover on Facebook as part of their investigations.
Privacy law was largely created in the pre-Internet age, and new rules are needed to keep up with the ways people communicate today. Much of what occurs online, like blog posting, is intended to be an open declaration to the world, and law enforcement is within its rights to read and act on what is written. Other kinds of communication, particularly in a closed network, may come with an expectation of privacy. If government agents are joining social networks under false pretenses to spy without a court order, for example, that might be crossing a line.
A national conversation about social networking and other forms of online privacy is long overdue. The first step toward having it is for the public to know more about what is currently being done. Making the federal government answer these reasonable Freedom of Information Act requests would be a good start.
Read the entire disturbing article here, and make sure others are aware.