… Data Fuels Political And Legal Agendas

 

 

 

 

” This is the fourth story in our four-part series examining your digital trail and who potentially has access to it. It was co-reported by G.W. Schulz from the Center for Investigative Reporting. Yesterday, we examined your Fourth Amendment rights and how some believe the digital age has weakened them. Today we see how government officials and private attorneys can use your online data in politics and courtrooms.

Here’s a question for the digital age: If you are one of those people who say, “I’ve done nothing wrong; I’ve got nothing to hide,” do you have any reason to worry that someone might try to use your digital records against you?

We posed that question to John Dean, a man who has become immortalized in U.S. history books as President Richard Nixon’s White House lawyer. His answer: “Think about the Nixon Enemies List.”

Dean says the history of Nixon’s Enemies List, which surfaced during the Watergate scandal, shows that even when people have done nothing wrong and think they have nothing to hide, unscrupulous government officials can still dig up personal information and use it to try to smear people.”

Julian Sanchez, a research fellow at the libertarian CATO Institute, calls this era “a golden age of surveillance.”Before computers, it took a huge amount of time and work to try to find dirt on somebody. For instance, the FBI tried to discredit Martin Luther King Jr. They wiretapped his phones, bugged his hotel rooms, and then had to listen to hundreds of hours of recordings. The Watergate scandal started unraveling after operatives physically broke into the Democratic Committee’s headquarters to plant bugs and photograph documents — and got caught. But Sanchez says the computer age lets you find intimate parts of a person’s life right in front of you, on a screen. And you can search and analyze it almost instantly, with a few clicks. “