Remember When Obama Opposed Surveillance

Rewind to 2008. George W. Bush was finishing up his eighth year as president and many people were furious about all of the civil liberties he wiped his ass with since 2001. In comes Barack Obama who promises to curtail the surveillance powers enacted under Bush. Now we’re approaching Obama’s eighth year as president and he has not only failed to curtail the state’s surveillance powers but he’s actively campaigning to preserve it:

President Barack Obama called on the Senate Tuesday to extend key Patriot Act provisions before they expire five days from now, including the government’s ability to search Americans’ phone records.

“This needs to get done,” he told reporters in the Oval Office. “It’s necessary to keep the American people safe and secure.”

Is there any question why I don’t believe politicians?

Widespread surveillance has become a sticky issue. Part of the reason for this, in my opinion, is the fact both major political parties are performing constant maneuvers to oppose whatever the other party supports. In 2008 the Republican Party fully supported the surveillance state created under Bush precisely because it was created under a Republican president. The Democrats opposed the surveillance state because the Republicans supported it. When Obama came to power the Republicans started changing course on the surveillance state. Since the Republicans were changing course the Democrats had to as well less they be on the same side of an issue as their opponent. Now we’re in a position where the Republican Party is moving away from fully supporting the surveillance state and the Democratic Party is moving towards fully supporting it. What this issue has really shown us is that neither party has any principles and bases their stances almost entirely on what the other party espouses.

As the surveillance state is convenient for whatever party is in power it will never go away. Whatever party is in power will support it while the other party opposes it (I use the word “opposes” very loosely because they don’t really have any strong feelings other than opposing what the other party supports). This is why it’s important for everybody to utilize the security tools available to them. We’re always going to be spied on by the state so we need to defend ourselves regardless of what way the political winds are blowing. Politics won’t change the surveillance state but cryptography will help you defend against it.