|What If Richard Nixon Had Had Your E-Mail Password?
If he were President right now, Richard Nixon would absolutely adore today's National Security Agency. Nixon would be able to snoop, shadow and spy at will. He could read your e-mail; see what you've googled; check out your browsing history; find out whom you called, who called you, when you spoke and for how long; and know where you are at every moment, because of that GPS chip in your phone.
And he wouldn't have to offer that lame, barefaced excuse that there was a Communist hiding under your bed. No, all he'd have to say is that there is a terrorist hiding under your bed.
(Maybe you need a bed that's closer to the floor. But then you'd have to watch out for the rats.)
When I was a kid, I sure didn't trust Tricky Dick. But as I grew up, I realized that the problem went well beyond The Trickmeister. He was simply exploiting spytech to its fullest. I learned that President Eisenhower had spied on Eleanor Roosevelt, that J. Edgar Hoover had recorded Martin Luther King Jr.'s private conversations, and that Lyndon Johnson had enlisted the FBI's assistance during his 1964 campaign. For almost a century, the federal government has used surveillance to keep tabs on civil rights, environmentalist, and antiwar activism. Spying on us: it's the one thing that Republicans and Democrats seem to agree on. It's bipartisan. It's as American as apple spy.
That's one reason why the revelations over the past few days of near-universal government surveillance are so disturbing. Microsoft, Google, Apple – they're all in on it. Former NSA official William Binney has said that we are "on a slippery slope to a totalitarian state." I don't know what's worse: that I'm not sure he's right, or that I'm not sure he's wrong.
Fortunately, I'm a Member of Congress, so I can do something about it. And you are likely an American citizen and voter, which means that you can help.
I'm introducing a bill that I call the "Mind Your Own Business Act". This bill prohibits our government from spying on us, or collecting data on us, unless there's probable cause that you have committed or you will commit an act of terrorism or similar criminal offense.