Efforts to widen what digital information governments may lawfully obtain without a particularized suspicion supported by a warrant must be opposed. When the Federal government collects data on the whole population, it necessarily collects data about reporters, political rivals and opponents, protest groups, watchdog groups, and other legitimate government opponents. Politicians always get caught up in their own power, often believing it to be the most important thing in the world for some reason or another. Dragnet information will be used to oppose and suppress the freedoms of the people unfriendly to the currently elected politicians. It is simply too tempting, and government officials will abuse it. Dragnet information may not be dangerous to every individual, but it is dangerous to the proper functioning of a democratic society. Elected politicians will initially use the information to maintain their own power, and then to extend it. Their gain of power will be your loss of power. The question is not “if” dragnet information will be massively abused, but “when”. There are plenty of historical precedents. Quoting from Wikipedia:
The FBI distributed reports regarding such affairs to the executive branch, friendly reporters, potential coalition partners and funding sources of the SCLC, and King’s family. The Bureau also sent anonymous letters to King threatening to reveal information if he did not cease his civil rights work. One anonymous letter sent to King just before he received the Nobel Peace Prize read, in part:
The American public, the church organizations that have been helping—Protestants, Catholics and Jews will know you for what you are—an evil beast. So will others who have backed you. You are done. King, there is only one thing left for you to do. You know what it is. You have just 34 days in which to do (this exact number has been selected for a specific reason, it has definite practical significant [sic]). You are done. There is but one way out for you. You better take it before your filthy fraudulent self is bared to the nation.
A tape recording of several of King’s extramarital liaisons, excerpted from FBI wiretaps, accompanied the letter. King interpreted this package as an attempt to drive him to suicide, although William Sullivan, head of the Domestic Intelligence Division at the time, argued that it may have only been intended to “convince Dr. King to resign from the SCLC”. King refused to give in to the FBI’s threats.
Yes, this passage refers to the evil beast, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the same man remembered on a Federal holiday. This is how these surveillance powers have been used in the past, and this is how they will continue to be used, now and in the future.