12/06/2011

Big Brother Alert: Do You Tweet? Government Receiving Archive Of Every Tweet Sent

Posted by Brian
In George Orwell's classic novel "1984", one of the things that I remember being most disconcerting was that the government, Big Brother, was able to watch Winston Smith's every move. No matter what he did, where he went, there were camera's, microphones, or other means to track the people's movements, thoughts, writings, etc. In today's electronic age, pretty much everything that Orwell envisioned is now possible. Maybe even more. Twitter, Facebook, instant messaging, and other means of communication are now commonplace.  They have allowed us to be able to communicate like never before,  What used to take days or even weeks to communicate, can now be accomplished in mere nanoseconds. They allow businesses to have face-to-face meetings with clients halfway around the world using Skype, or Go To Meeting, saving millions of dollars in travel expenses. We have seen the many different protests that have taken place here in the U.S., and around the world in which Twitter became a quick way for participants to organize and stay in touch with each other. The means can for which these methods are used are neither good nor bad.  It is the intent behind the individuals using them.
However, it sends a chill down my spine when government says that they want access to a huge archive of every communication, supposedly because they are historic. And the Library of Congress may in fact have no nefarious intentions. The problem is that what the current crop of people intend is not what is important, The problem is what future government officials may use this access to such a vast database for. We already know that Congress just gave authorization to the military to have the authority to round up and detain Americans, without charges, for who they deem to be a threat to national security.  What is going to be their benchmark for a "threat"? Will it be for people who are actually trying build some device that will kill thousands, or millions, of people? Or will it also be used for people who "tweet" something derogatory about the government, or some government official? Or maybe some guy or girl who blogs their opinions about a government that they think has gotten too large?
Freedom of speech is a very precious thing. We are already seeing some subtle, and not-so subtle examples of government clamping down on free speech.
The government essentially having all of these "tweets" delivered to them on a silver platter certainly gives me pause. And a little chill up my spine.


Library of Congress to receive entire Twitter archive

By Michael O'Connell
Web Editor
Federal News Radio
Tweets, emails and other electronic communications can be considered "government documents" and must be preserved. The National Archives handles official government materials, while the Library of Congress' mandate is to deal with anything that may have long-term historical interest.
"We're basically in the same situation as the National Archives, only on a much larger scale," said Bill Lefurgy, digital initiatives program manager at the Library of Congress national digital information infrastructure and preservation program. "We tend to have a much larger perspective in terms of what we collect." He joined the Federal Drive with Tom Temin and Amy Morris Tuesday morning to talk about the library's digital mission.
But how much digital information are we talking about? How about all of the tweets from Twitter's archives?
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