In today's news, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is pushing for federal control of the internet -- just as the FCC is fighting for control of internet service providers. The Federal Communications Commission just opened comments on whether broadband should be reclassified as a telecommunications system -- and therefore, under the same regulatory control as telephones, etc.
All, apparently in the name of a growing threat of "homegrown terrorism."
In a recent speech to the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy, Secretary Napolitano pointed to foreign terrorists who use the World Wide Web to communicate with their cohorts here in the United States. She is quoted as saying, "[t]he First Amendment protects radical opinions, but we need the legal tools to do things like monitor the recruitment of terrorists via the Internet."
Napolitano pointed to our known foreign enemies -- we are in two wars, of course -- and in this context, monitoring our enemies' ability to conspire with spies (sounds melodramatic, but nevertheless, it's accurate) seems to make sense.
Lots of Homegrown Political Groups Organizing on Meetup.com
However, something interesting occurred the same morning that I was reading about this push to federalize the Internet -- over at Meetup.com.
You know Meetup.com. It's the cool site where people of shared interests coordinate group meetings over the web. Hikers, Dog Lovers, Poker Players, Business Networking Groups -- they're all there at Meetup.com. I was looking for writer groups to join, maybe a book club.
This morning, I was surprised to see the number of groups that have sprouted in the two months or so since I last visited San Antonio's Meetup.com that are politically charged. Some may be Tea Party groups. Some may be other things -- there was one here in San Antonio established to prepare for an inevitable Martial Law.
Going by the name US Martial Law and Financial - Instant Alert System, there are 327 members as of today's date. Think of that. The local Scrabble club has 34.
The Martial Law group is Libertarian, they're apparently supporters of Ron Paul, and is part of the "Constitutionalist" groups numbering 299 worldwide. Now, these groups appear to be Tea Party connected, too, so go figure.
Who Does the Federal Government Want to Monitor?
I'm a native of San Antonio. During the three years I represented kids in the San Antonio CPS courts, I learned a lot about border activities. First of all, I learned that the federal government simply isn't doing that much to protect our border with Mexico.
Here in San Antonio, I've talked with coyotes (professional human smugglers) and Texas Rangers and Border Patrol officers. Here, quite frankly, the consensus is that we feel pretty much on our own - and it's understood that it's not just Mexican Nationals that are entering our state. Nope. All sorts of nationalities are crossing into Texas these days. If they've got the cash, then there's a coyote willing to smuggle them (at great risk, of course).
So, what's the real concern here on internet regulation and control? Is it really the foreign threat? Or is it an internal one?
This agency - or executive branch - desire to grasp the reins of the internet needs to be carefully considered by all of us. Our civil liberties are paramount. Men and women have died, and are dying, for mine and yours.
I'm pondering all this today, and thought I'd share it with you. I'm suspicious that it's my fellow citizens that are the true targets of this intentional violation of civil liberties, not foreigners.
We're a country that revolted in the 1700s and again in the 1800s. Some would say the 1960s came close to a third revolution. How real is a threat of revolution today? It's something to ponder.