30 December 2012, 15:39

US – the Big Brother is watching you

US – the Big Brother is watching you

US President Barack Obama has signed a bill to reauthorize the government to conduct surveillance of suspected terrorists both domestically and overseas without first obtaining a court order.

In a 73-23 vote, the Senate approved the bill on Friday renewing the 2008 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which is due to expire by the year end. The bill will extend for five more years the ability of US intelligence authorities to conduct their foreign surveillance programs.

Well, spies must be taken care of, no doubt about that, but many in the US, including Democratic Senator Ron Wyden, fear that millions of Americans could thus find themselves being closely watched by the Big Brother.

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The amendment allows the intelligence agencies to link up to any US-based email and phone communications by foreigners suspected of espionage and terrorism. Local rights groups argue, however, that US spooks have long been using the amendment to keep an eye on millions of Americans under the pretext of keeping the bad guys at bay and assessing the scope of the terrorist threat to the United States. 

All documents pertaining to the amendment are to be kept under wraps until 2017. Says Michelle Richardson, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union:

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The fact of such surveillance has also been confirmed by former members of the National Security Agency’s staff, including William Binney, who quit in 2001.

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The top-secret NSA has always been America’s number one electronic eavesdropper, but since 9/11 the number of spook agencies has mushroomed to a whopping 263 employing over 850,000 staff, which is 50 percent more that there are people living in Washington D.C.

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