For Sale! Your Personal Information

In no other period in the history of the United States has there been such a flagrant invasion of ones personal information. This invasion of privacy is becoming more intrusive to the point that ones ability to remain off any bodies advertisement lists, is almost impossible now. The practice of selling personal information has become so commonplace in our society today it is now no small wonder that information which is so personal often lands in the hands of more businesses, other governmental agencies, and, yes other financial institutions. So many times when people open up their mailboxes only to find credit card offers and other junk mail with their personal information plastered all over them is just the tip of the iceberg of a blatant and willful act of piracy in invading ones private information. This at a time where tensions are already high concerning terrorism, identity theft, and any other fragrant abuse of a persons personal life. Much of this uncertainty is driven by our governments reactions to the many crisis that are occurring here in the United States and around the world. In a world filled with so much contempt for the freedoms of man caused by mans own unrelenting thirst for more power and control over the multitudes of those less fortunate has created an erosion almost so complete of individual freedoms. Though many are not aware that the United States is in grave danger of extinguishing the flames of individual freedoms that are guaranteed by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

The terrorist attacks on 9/11 had created the need to amend the Freedom Of Information Act to coincide with a world filled with tension, and a foreboding sense of that our nation is less secure than before.was. Even though new regulations and even a newly formed Cabinet [ Homeland Security } was formed really hasn’t made the United States that much more secure than before 9/11. A very sad reality of the times we all live in today.

When the Freedom Of Information act was passed the Vietnam War was causing much distention and discord among the American public. The ongoing stress on both constitutional and inherent rights of American citizens and the added assertion of government subservience to the individual, some thought it was necessary for government information to be available to the public. This was the idea that brought about the Freedom Of Information Act in the first place. However, due to the sensitivity of some government information and private interests, others believed that certain types of government information should remain secret. Therefore, Congress passed the Freedom of Information Act in 1966 that would effectively deal with requests for government records, consistent with the belief that the people have the “right to know” about them. The first amendment to The Freedom of Information Act was the Privacy Act of 1974 which additionally covered government documents charting individuals. This was the first step in sequestering personal information for sole purpose of exploiting ones identity for profit.

From 1974 up to 2009 when President Obama issued Executive Order 13526 , which allows the government to classify certain specific types of information relevant to national security after it has been requested every United States citizen has fallen victim in having their personal information exposed and sold for profit . That is, a request for information that meets the criteria for availability under FOIA can still be denied if the government determines that the information should have been classified, and unavailable. It also sets a timeline for automatic declassification of old information that is not specifically identified as requiring continued secrecy. The reality though, is our personal information is being sold right beneath our nose with-out any authorization.

The Patriot Act of 2001 only solidified and facilitated the existing FOIA as another way for personal information to be used and sold by agencies and individuals for profit. As well meaning as both the FOIA and the Patriot Act were when implemented they have only become more intrusive into the lives of private citizens. Now both acts have gone from protecting “We the people” from information falling into the wrong hands to now any personal information is outright being sold. No longer are there guarantees that protect the American public there are only guarantees that protect the government and all those who work of the government from the American public.

Bills that were designed for personal protection are now used to undermine that protection. A complete reversal of what the FOIA and the Patriot Act were intended for. As a result from what is supposed to protect the American public personal information is now being bought and sold by individuals, organizations or any other business entity. Whether or not they have lawful intentions your personal identity is now exposed creating more of a security crisis for the general public but more importantly a grave national security risk as well. All without your knowledge.

The days of faster more convenient transfer of information “the Internet age” has made it possible for more information to be transferred instantly any where in the world. These advances in technology haven’t done anything to prohibit one from buying and selling your personal information. In fact this misuse of the computer age has become so widespread more individuals have become victims of identity theft, fraud, and other heinous crimes brought about by the ease to which any individual can access ones personal identity that is used unlawfully. Reforming the Patriot Act and the FOIA is essential to guard our personal liberties and ensure national security for the United States.

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