Saturday, August 08, 2009

Another reason the Obama Snitch Program

is illegal:

5 US Code §552a(e)(7) commands that any Federal agency

"(7) maintain no record describing how any individual exercises rights guaranteed by the First Amendment unless expressly authorized by statute or by the individual about whom the record is maintained or unless pertinent to and within the scope of an authorized law enforcement activity;"

Persons posting to the web or sending emails are exercising First Amendment rights. I can't see how gathering this information is expressly authorized by statute, nor within the scope of an LE activity. It doesn't get much clearer than that.

Of course, you have to have people in power who actually respect the law...

4 comments:

spacemecha said...

Someone should submit their request for gathering information back to them as being fishy or strange, and possibly misleading.

Firehand said...

I think a bunch of people already have. Along with "Have you seen what those union people did?"

Anonymous said...

Since when has the unconstitutionality of an act even slowed the National Socialist Democratic Worker's Party down?

These bastards are beyond despicable.

Gerry

Sigivald said...

It won't be illegal if they don't keep your name (or SSN, etc., but since they won't have that in the first place here...). (see 5USC552a(4)))

Indeed, if they don't group them by person and keep individual identifiers of origin, they won't be "records" under the definitions involved.

Further, a "system of records" is defined as being one keyed off of individual identity, so it looks like they'd be off the hook even if they did store names, as long as the records weren't grouped by name (ie, as long as they were tracking "X was said" not "these are the things Y said").

The definitions and exact language are always the devil in the details of Federal Law, and this is no exception.

At this point, it seems pretty unlikely that they'd be storing them by "reported name" anyway, given that a huge number of the reports would be under aliases.

I'm personally most inclined to believe this was fantastically incompetent but "honestly" meant to just get a handle on what PR tack to take, rather than a sneaky "way to track Our Enemies".

But in any case, I doubt it's being done in an illegal manner.