Eliot Spitzer I : Privacy Canary

There was extensive coverage of the Eliot Spitzer case on CBC Newsworld today. Nancy Wilson asked an online expert how the government could be so sure of the case against Spitzer. Three things were cited – first, the banks have to report any transaction over $10,000 to the Federal government. Second, large cash transactions in a short period of time under $10,000 but quickly accumulating to more than $10,000 are watched by all financial institutions in the name of identity and credit card theft monitoring but also in watching criminal elements and apparently politicians. Third, the telephone, email, and other communications that all Americans make daily now appear to be captured and stored and are subject “to review” by law enforcement officials “after legal warrants” have been obtained. This incredibly massive database and facility put in place by the Bush administration to monitor potential foreign terrorist conversations with US citizens, obviously can be used to monitor a wide range of domestic only communications.

Attempts to determine the extent and scope of monitoring by the NSA have been effectively deflected by the Bush Administration. But the writing is now clearly on the wall. What then Sun CEO Scott McNealy said 4 years ago, “Privacy – get over it” is effectively coming to pass. Eliot Spitzer just gets to be the the most public Canary on the systemic demise of US Privacy.

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