There is so much attention being focused on phone and internet privacy these days, the line between security and freedom is becoming more and more blurred. Loudest in the mob of criticisms are the libertarians among us. Fueled by ignorance and powered by paranoia, these self-righteous and conspiracy-prone yahoos see evil everywhere but within themselves. Not so fast, Sparky.
The bomb-throwing South Carolina blog FITSNews has built it’s tabloid reputation on distortions, sensationalism, unsubstantiated claims and lies. The conventional wisdom around the state – and proffered by many insiders – is that FITS is the classic “pay to post” website. It is South Carolina’s primary Rand/Ron Paul promoter as well as for such sterling characters as former state treasurer and convicted drug felon – and now, U.S. Senate candidate – Thomas Ravenel.
FITS, the Pauls and T-Rav have been vocal about their distaste for the metadata access NSA conducts to track down terrorists and other international bad actors. As explained by NSA ad nausem, the telephone metadata it references is no more than a number called by a legitimately targeted number, the time of the call and call duration. It’s really no more than the cops looking for a suspect vehicle and riding through a neighborhood and checking driveways for it.
The policy goes on to say that FITS would NEVER use this information to gather personal data and would NEVER provide what it collects to third parties. Being the great judge of what is good and Grand High Advocate of Honesty, FITS wants all readers and site visitors to “trust us.”
Now, to be fair (a practice with which FITS is unfamiliar), these notices are standard on the internet, particularly on the for-profit sites. It’s a cover to limit liability, etc. (FITSNews is also an LLC.).
There is also the distinction between what the government collects and what private entities gather, especially since what people provide companies is usually consensual – usually.
Still, what FITS collects – without Congressional or Judicial oversight – is far more detailed and intrusive than NSA metadata and the uses of it are much more questionable.
But don’t tell T-Rav.