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Yes, You Too!

For those of you who think I write too much about government intrusion, perhaps in the belief that if you have done nothing wrong then you have no need to worry about government surveillance, this one's for you, too!

The Washington Post today runs a story about how those watch lists (which we know are faulty, with a too low threshold for inclusion) are used by banks, mortgage companies and other lenders to turn away perfectly legitimate applicants.

"The Office of Foreign Asset Control's list of "specially designated nationals" has long been used by banks and other financial institutions to block financial transactions of drug dealers and other criminals. But an executive order issued by President Bush after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks has expanded the list and its consequences in unforeseen ways. Businesses have used it to screen applicants for home and car loans, apartments and even exercise equipment, according to interviews and a report by the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area to be issued today.

"The way in which the list is being used goes far beyond contexts in which it has a link to national security," said Shirin Sinnar, the report's author. "The government is effectively conscripting private businesses into the war on terrorism but doing so without making sure that businesses don't trample on individual rights."

Penalties for businesses NOT to use the watch lists can be huge fines and imprisonment. 

"The law is ridiculous," said Tom Hudson, a lawyer in Hanover, Md., who advises car dealers to use the list to avoid penalties. "It prohibits anyone from doing business with anyone who's on the list. It does not have a minimum dollar amount . . . The local deli, if it sells a sandwich to someone whose name appears on the list, has violated the law."

Perhaps we need more of these stupid examples to filter out, to affect more and more of the general population.  In that way, a groundswell of opposition may be developed that can at least slow down this steady advance toward government/corporate surveillance of individuals.

March 27, 2007 in America Inc, Bush Administration, Government Intrusion, US Justice System | Permalink


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