How the Government Ruined Internet Freedom

The government has become spies on it’s own people and ruined internet freedom. We all knew it was bound to happen, but when they locked Chelsea Manning in a cage, it was different.

How the government ruined internet freedom, a story of abuse.

I swung all the way to the Left for awhile and I’m becoming more moderate. Maybe even Libertarian. I’m not sure what started it, but what solidified it was the continuing efforts of Obama and the NSA to invade our privacy online. The internet is one thing that I really care(d) about–it was a place I could come voice concerns, talk about things that mattered, and NOT have to worry about someone from the government keeping a profile on me. My friend David and I would joke about it (“Hey, FBI, watch this!”) and we knew they were doing it, but it was hidden until this year. When stories were released about the invasion of privacy and the policing of citizens, I joined Fight for the Future and did a blackout for SOPA and PIPA (tl; dr: Internet entities such as Wikipedia, Google, Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and Tumblr said the two bills would force them to be online police and hold them responsible if users of their sites link to pirated content; antithetical, they argue, to the ideal of an open Internet.).

Chelsea Manning (formerly Bradley Manning)
Chelsea Manning (formerly Bradley Manning)

The government has become spies on it’s own people. And while we all knew it was sort of ‘par for the course’ and bound to happen, it was different when they arrested Chelsea Manning (formerly Bradley) and locked her in a cage (Manning on the cage: “I just thought I was going to die in that cage. And that’s how I saw it—an animal cage.”). Manning then was kept in an isolation chamber for nine months (Solitary confinement is considered to be a form of psychological torture when the period of confinement is longer than a few weeks or is continued indefinitely. Source, Wikipedia.).

But if Manning was being ethical and releasing information she thought should be in the public square, then what message does that leave with us? The writers, journalists, bloggers, outspoken members of any party? If we follow our conscious, do we then run the risk of being captured, caged like an animal and tortured by our own government? It may sound hyperbolic now, but just know that the government is using Manning as an example and has prosecuted many others that aren’t talked about as much in the news.

Members of Congress said Manning deserved the death penalty, but a judge sentenced Chelsea to 35 years in prison. In an interview with the Washington Post, Ben Wizner, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Speech, Privacy and Technology Project said the following:

When a soldier who shared information with the press and public is punished far more harshly than others who tortured prisoners and killed civilians, something is seriously wrong with our justice system. This is a sad day for Bradley Manning, but it’s also a sad day for all Americans who depend on brave whistleblowers and a free press for a fully informed public debate.

edward snowdenMeanwhile, a US court has charged National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden with violating the Espionage Act. (The Espionage Act has been used in a way that might be possible to prosecute journalists as spies: In April 2010, Thomas Andrews Drake, an official with the National Security Agency (NSA), was indicted under the Act for alleged willful retention of national defense information 18 U.S.C. § 793(e)…Considering the prosecution of Drake, investigative journalist Jane Mayer wrote that “Because reporters often retain unauthorized defense documents, Drake’s conviction would establish a legal precedent making it possible to prosecute journalists as spies.) Snowden says that the mass surveillance programs used by the US to tap into phone and internet connections around the world is making people less safe. He says the US government was “unwilling to prosecute high officials who lied to Congress and the country on camera, but they’ll stop at nothing to persecute someone who told them the truth”.