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by Nico Salvatore
Saturday, Mar. 10, 2007 at 11:51 PM
Proposed Internet Surveillance
Gold Mine for Police Asset Forfeitures
The Bush administration recently stated it must have greater surveillance over the Internet to fight pornography and other crime.
The Administration has “proposed legislation” that would order Internet websites to keep extensive records of Internet activity. Anyone, who visits a website, downloads a photo image or other information at a website, shall be entered into a data bank accessible by police. Law enforcement will be permitted to “track” specific individuals when they go online. Downloading, receiving, or sending a pornographic image on the net can be a crime. What is an “illegal image”, may be decided by the Bush government.
Proposed Internet surveillance could be used to track lawful political activities and to Chill Internet Speech: The Administration’s proposed legislation for greater Internet surveillance, emphasizes tracking “images” downloaded or sent on the Internet. The Administration’s plan will make it easier for police to track political activists and organizations that download or transmit photographs and videos to domestic and foreign groups they network. The dangerously broad language of the Patriot Act can be used by the U.S. to charge that a “tracked” “image”, sent or received by a political group while in itself legal, was used for an “illegal purpose.” Britain has adopted similar laws that provide reciprocity with the U.S. Government to cause the arrest and/or extradition of persons in America.
The Bush Administration’s plan to document and warehouse Citizens’ Internet activities will provide police a “gold mine of information” that can be used to initiate arrest, fines and asset forfeiture of people’s property possibly on a large scale. Currently there are over 200 crimes and violations that can make property subject to Government asset forfeiture—that have nothing to do with illegal-drugs. The “statute limitations” for government to civilly forfeit an asset is 5 years from “whenever” police “claim” they discovered an asset was made subject to forfeiture. For example, businesses sometimes break laws and the evidence may be in emails sent to their associates. The Bush Administration has asked Congress for the power to monitor emails. Meanwhile it hasn’t been determined if police can use electronic information gathered from illegal NSA spying on Americans to prosecute U.S. Citizens. Interestingly, the current “NSA spying issue” might lose its importance if Congress gives the Bush Government, total surveillance over the Internet. Internet spying can destroy an innocent individual or business if a Federal or state agent takes out of context, a hastily or poorly written email, in order to charge someone with a crime.
The Administrations’ proposed Internet Surveillance Legislation too broad: Consequently a minor without their parents’ knowledge might access a pornographic website, down load or email illegal images to another person. Under the proposed Legislation, that will combine with Patriot Act laws, an innocent parent might have to prove he or she is not responsible for downloading or forwarding pornographic images on their home-computer.
Sending pornographic or other illegal material on the Internet can result in the government forfeiting the computer used and the owner’s home if that is where the computer was located when the illegal transmission took place. In Civil Asset Forfeiture, no person need be charged with a crime. Instead government charges the property with crime used to facilitate an illegal act. Because property is not a person, property does not have Constitutional rights that government must abide by. The standard of evidence for the government to Civilly forfeit property is a “preponderance of evidence” little more that hearsay.
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