Archive for November 2017

Big Data Control Freaks, Don’t Tread on Me #StopFEPA #STOPCTA #StopKGIS #StopKBYG   2 comments

How much bleeding out of freedom do we need before we take action –to demand from  Congress an end to the privacy erosion that’s going on in multiple big-data bills right now?  (To track what’s going on in Congress, click here).

Taking liberty, including privacy, for granted is a lazy, dangerous luxury.   We suppose that freedom is as forthcoming as sunlight, but Constitutional norms of freedom are the new kid on the block historically, and both intentionally and unintentionally, Congress –and initiatives of the U.N. promoted in our Congress, are running away with our rights today.

So what?  Still not moved?  Please, then, take a moment for the real “why” factor:  remember what life looks like when freedom gets fully eroded.

Remember the 1600’s  – People who read the Bible in England were burned at the stake  by their own government.  This was a catalyst for pilgrims to leave, to establish this country’s liberty.

How many of those pilgrims would have made it to Plymouth Rock alive, if the English government had had a data sharing system like the one proposed in S.2046 (FEPA) where every government agency can and must share data on individuals, with every other government agency?

Remember the 1930’s – Innocent millions in the Soviet Union were intentionally starved to death under Stalin’s communism.  There were no Constitutional norms for those people to point to, before their lands were eminent-domained (collectivized) by their governments, prior to the extermination of the people.  I recommend reading Execution by Hunger, by a survivor of that time.

Remember the 1940’s – Throughout Europe, led by Hitler, governments killed millions in  state-sponsored death.  The yellow star that Jews were forced to sew onto their clothes to mark them as enemies of the government would be much more easily removed than digitized social security numbers, names and family information that FEPA and CTA  will hand to the federal government through individuals’ data collected by FAFSA, SLDS, IRS, Census, statistical agencies, and more.  Soon after this, in 1948, George Orwell wrote 1984, which I wish everyone voting for big data bills in Congress would read.

Remember 1958-62 – In China, about 45 million were killed under Mao Zedong’s “Great Leap Forward” initiative.  You can learn a lot about the erosion of freedom by reading the remarkable history Life and Death in Shanghai, written by a survivor of that murderous time.

(And today, in China, there is no privacy and no digital freedom:  everyone is inventoried, everyone is watched;  everyone is punished or rewarded according to the government’s value system.)

Remember the 1970’s – In Cambodia, millions were killed by Khmer Rouge communists who had control of Cambodia.  The government, unleashed from any Constitutional principles, turned on its own citizens in a way that was not predictable.

Remember the 1990’s – In Rwanda, Africa, close to a million were killed by their government.  (Rwandan I.D. cards had people’s ethnic groups listed on them, making it easy for the government’s military, with lists of ethnic data, to find individuals labeled “government opponents”.  Note:  this is historical fact, not fake news, not fearmongering.  This is an example of modern, governmentally-organized,  data-mining-related, genocide.

All of these abominations  happened because:

1) government had amassed power, including at least some personal data about victims, upon which to base punishing decisions, and:

2) leaders were evil.

But the dead!  These were real people– with nicknames, with holidays, with faith, with families.  They might have had friends in the government whom they liked, whom they trusted– but without a Constitutional fortress in place, good intentions are nothing.

Individuals can’t punish or kill others unless they amass power over them.  Why is eroding freedom not a clear and present danger to Congress?   Why do we keep writing big-data bills and passing them into law, which authorize more and more power of one set of individuals over others?  I have two theories: 1) big money influencing big votes and  2) a pop culture that celebrates conformity, dependency, obsession, victimhood and socialism instead of self-reliance, choice and accountability, virtue, individual worth and freedom.

Ask yourselves this, Big Money and Pop Culture:  “Are control freaks, bullies, and liars things of the past, things of distant places?  Is communism nowadays going to lead to happiness and wealth, even though in the past it has always led to piles of dead bodies?  Is there nothing historically sacred to defend?”

The thing that the man or woman in the concentration camp or the killing field would have done anything to reclaim– freedom– is without question dying as bills authorize unelected bureaucrats and unelected researchers full access to your personal data.  It seems that congressional bills value constitutional principles (that would have kept  control freaks and bullies in check) like used kleenex.

Is it too big a leap for us to say that giving away the average American’s personal power over his or her data is a path toward misery and loss?  I guess so, because so many legislators and citizens  even in supposedly conservative Utah all now sway to the tune of tech-justified, big-data justified socialism — the same Americans who cry patriotic tears when they see the flag pass by in a parade and who campaign with, “God Bless America.”  They don’t seem to get it anymore.

It’s not the left wing leading the pack.  Did you know who was involved in big data pushing now?  Trey Gowdy? Orrin Hatch?  Paul Ryan? Marco Rubio?   What was of such great value that it rose above sacred Constitutional principles of CONSENT and privacy and personal liberty, to these supposed conservatives who are pushing the big-data bills?

Meanwhile, patriotic Americans who read these bills and voice their concerns are being ignored or rebutted by Congress.

Names like Jane Robbins, Joy Pullman,  Jakell Sullivan, Cheri Kiesecker,  Lynne Taylor, Peter Greene, Emmett McGroarty, and so many, many, many others are  exposing and challenging the erosion of data privacy and autonomy.  But they aren’t making headlines.  Please read them anyway.

Some of their brand new work is linked or excerpted below, especially concerning these big-data bills:  FEPA – S.2046, Keeping Girls in School Act S.1171, College Transparency Act S.1121, HR 3157 The Student Privacy Protection Act, and Know Before You Go Act of 2017.

JANE ROBBINS

Jane Robbins, at Truth in American Education, writes about FEPA, “Senators, do you want your children’s and your families’ highly sensitive data shared across the federal government without your knowledge and consent, for purposes you never agreed to?  Do you want researchers or private corporations to have access to it?”

Robbins lists the 108 types of data stored in one agency (Dept of Ed, via FAFSA) and asks senators to consider the insanity of opening up all agencies’ data to share with one another and with private “research” entities.  From name and social security number of students, parents and stepparents, to how much money parents spend on food and housing, to the parents’ net worth of investments, the 108 items are only a tip of the data-sharing iceberg.  She asks senators to stop #FEPA (which already passed the House and will soon be up for a Senate vote; read the full bill — S.2046 here.)

JOY PULLMAN

Joy Pullman, at The Federalist, offers “12 Reasons Congress Shouldn’t Make Lifelong Surveillance the Price of Citizenship”:

  1. Personal Data is Private Property
  2. These Bills Kill Informed Consent
  3. Informed Consent is Key to Social Science Ethics
  4. It’s Wrong to Exploit Americans Unable to Object
  5. Kids Do Stupid Things More Often
  6. The Bigger the Database, the Bigger the Bait
  7. Federal Data Security is Awful
  8. Big Data is Prone to Prejudice and Political Manipulation
  9. No Research or Experience Justifies Sweeping Data Collection on Citizens
  10. Government Doesn’t Use Well the Data it Already Has
  11. Data Collection is Not About Improving Education, But Increasing Control
  12. Americans Are Citizens, Not Cattle or Widgets

She concludes here article:  “In the United States, government is supposed to represent and function at the behest of the people, and solely for the protection of our few, enumerated, natural rights. Our government is “of the people, by the people, for the people.” We are the sovereigns, and government functions at our pleasure. It is supposed to function by our consent and be restrained by invoilable laws and principles that restrain bureaucrats’ plans for our lives. These include the natural rights to life, liberty, and property. National surveillance systems violate all of these.”

Read Joy Pullman’s full article,  here.

 

JAKELL SULLIVAN

 

Jakell Sullivan has been researching and writing for nearly a decade about education reforms and data reforms that harm liberty.  This recent talk, given at an education conference at Agency Based Education, reveals the corporate-government partnershipping strategy to undermine local values, including religious freedom, which necessitates big-data bills to that align schools globally to UN-centric, data-bound values.

 

CHERI KIESECKER

 

 

When Cheri Kiesecker was cited as one who had falsely attacked these big-data bills, and was rebutted in a handout given to Congress from Congressional staffers, you might have known she had hit on truth.  Why would Congressional staff take the time to research and write a rebuttal to a simple mom writing at Missouri Education Watchdog?!  Read her analysis of the big-data bills here.  Read her rebuttal to Congress here.

She wrote, “I am a mom. My special interests are my children.  I write as a parent, because like many parent advocates, blogging is the only (small) way to be heard.  And No.  My concern DOES NOT “arise from a misunderstanding of what the bill does to the personal data that the government already has”…  

MY CONCERN IS THAT THE GOVERNMENT HAS CITIZENS’ AND ESPECIALLY SCHOOL-AGED CHILDREN’S PERSONAL DATA, WITHOUT PERMISSION…AND IS EXPANDING ACCESS, ANALYSIS OF THIS DATA, AGAIN WITHOUT PERMISSION.

It’s not your data. Data belongs to the individual.  Data is identity and data is currency.   Collecting someone’s personal data without consent is theft. (When hackers took Equifax data, that was illegal. When the government takes data… no different.)

If you support parental rights, you should not support HR4174 or its sister bill S2046. “

 

Dear Readers:

Like Cheri, Jakell, Joy, Jane and countless others, we can each do one small thing for liberty.  You could talk to your kids or grandkids about the founding of the USA.   You could help a friend register to vote.  You could call your senators and tell them to vote no on each of these big-data bills that DO NOT protect privacy as they claim that they can. Write an email.  Call a radio station talk show.  Write an op-ed.  Do it even though we are in the middle of the Christmas bustle.  (Actually, do it especially because we are in the middle of the Christmas bustle, which is when the dark side of Congress always counts on not being watched as it passes bad bills.)

I’m asking you to sacrifice a little time or maybe just your own insecurity, to join the writers and speakers whom I’ve highlighted above, to make your own voice heard, for liberty’s sake.  Here is that number to the switchboard at Congress:  (202) 224-3121.

Even if we don’t turn the Titanic away from the iceberg, even if freedom keeps eroding away, we can live or die with the failure, knowing that we honestly valued freedom enough to try.

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If Many Agree to Participate in Stealing, is it Still Stealing? Stop #FEPA in the Senate: S.2046   5 comments

Knowing that the history of liberty is “the history of the limitation of government power,” I ask you to take action to stop the bills known as FEPA (HR4174/S.2046) and CTA (S.1121).  This post will focus on the first bill, which is already teetering on the edge of passing into law.

FEPA is a pompous euphemism that stands for Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking.  But “evidence based policymaking” means that they’ll redefine data theft and stalking by calling it “evidence-based research”.  Because if agencies and organizations on the state and federal level  participate in the data-looting act together, it doesn’t feel quite like looting or stealing, as it would if just one well-intentioned, evidence-collecting creep stole data by himself.

All the fancy commissions and all the big-data infatuations in the world cannot change a wrong principle into a good one.  I’d love to ask the CEP leaders face to face whether big data is so important that freedom basics should be made obsolete.  Do we no longer worry about having our personal personal power limited– in consequence of personal data being taken?  No big deal?

I used to think that while all Democrats pushed for increased government, all Republicans sought limited government.  Not now:  Republicans Orrin Hatch, Paul Ryan, and even Trey Gowdy are supersizing government to empower big-data goals in their current bills– without any informed consent from the individuals whose data will be confiscated.

Representative Paul Ryan’s baby, the 2017 Commmission on Evidence-Based Policy, birthed this uglier baby,  Foundations of Evidence-Based Policymaking (FEPA HR4174)  that passed the U.S. House of Representatives without debate or a roll call vote, this month.

Unless the Senate ditches it next week, which is extremely unlikely, it will become national law.  But do you know what’s emerging in the bill?  Does your senator know?

The news media haven’t covered it, and Congress hasn’t debated it.  In fact, the House of Representatives suspended its rules to pass the House version super quickly, without a normal roll call vote: because it was supposedly so uncontroversial that there was no reason to have a real debate nor a recorded vote.

Yet it is highly controversial to those Americans who are passionate about a thing called human freedom.  We watched and listened to the CEP’s year-long hearings and submitted public comment and read the CEP’s final report.

Unpaid moms at Missouri Education Watchdog and expert lawyers at American Principles Project each recently published important warnings about the FEPA bill.   But proponents of FEPA rebutted those moms and lawyers.  What followed were brilliant, unarguable rebuttals to that rebuttal.  If truth and liberty were prime concerns to Congress, then FEPA would, following the study of these rebuttals, surely be gone.  But no.

 

 

You see, a lot of people are  counting on this particular set of claims to make them wealthy or powerful.

I am having what I wish was only deja vu.

Do you remember another Thanksgiving week, with freedom-harming bills slimeing their secretive way through Congress without debate, while most of us were too busy eating cranberries and turkey to pay attention?  Remember, after the ESSA bill passed, that then-Secretary Duncan boasted about the secretive nature of passing the ESSA bill into law.

He said, “We were intentionally quiet on the bill – they asked us specifically not to praise it – and to let it get through. And so we went into radio silence and then talked about it after the fact. . . . Our goal was to get this bill passed. . . [W]e were very strategically quiet on good stuff”.

Now it’s 2017.

Not surprisingly, proponents of FEPA (HR4174/S2046)  say that FEPA is so harmless and uncontroversial as to require zero debate– but in the same week, proponents released a myths-vs-facts sheet to Congressmen, rebutting the controversies outlined by the American Principles Project and by the Missouri Education Watchdog.   Hmm.

Additionally, although the majority of the public commenters who wrote to the CEP said that they were opposed to the data-sharing of student records without consent, FEPA does direct agencies to ignore their concerns.

FEPA says that agencies must report “statutory restrictions to accessing relevant data”–in other words, muggle bureaucrats must find ways to overcome people’s privacy rights.

FEPA gives no provisions for data security, while encouraging and enabling unlimited data swapping between government agencies.

FEPA  creates a “National Secure Data Service” with such extensive data sharing that creation of one central housing agency would be completely redundant.

There is much more.  You can read the bill.

The American Principles Project produced a rebuttal to the rebuttal of FEPA.  I am reposting just a piece of it.

 

RESPONSE TO HOUSE MAJORITY STAFF’S ARGUMENTS IN FAVOR OF FEPA

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

 

Claim: FEPA doesn’t create a centralized data repository.

Rebuttal: FEPA moves toward the recommendation of the Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking (Commission) to create a “National Secure Data Service” by 1) requiring each agency to create an evidence- building plan; 2) requiring the OMB Director to unify those plans across the entire federal government; 3) creating a “federal data catalog” and a “national data inventory”; and 4) requiring various councils to recommend how to vastly increase data linking and sharing among federal agencies, with states, and with public and private research entities.

Claim: FEPA doesn’t authorize any new data collection or data analysis.

Rebuttal: Regardless of whether FEPA expressly authorizes new data collection, it 1) incentivizes agency heads to expand, not maintain or minimize, data collection; 2) creates new sources of data for agencies by allowing unfettered access to other agencies’ data; 3) creates a process whereby public and private organizations can access non-public government data; 4) allows the OMB Director to expand the universe of statistical agencies and units; and 5) allows one person, the OMB director, to decide via post-enactment “guidance” what if any data will be exempt from sharing as too private or confidential.

Claim: FEPA “does not overturn an existing student unit record ban, which prohibits the establishment of a database with data on all students,” so parents need not worry about their children’s personally identifiable information (PII).

Rebuttal: FEPA doesn’t overturn this ban – that will almost certainly come later. But its extensive data-linking and data-sharing mandates create a de facto national database, whereby the data stays “housed” within the collecting agency but can be accessed by all. Title III specifically authorizes data “accessed” by federal agencies to be shared. This will threaten the security of not only the student data already maintained by the U.S. Department of Education (USED), but also the data in the states’ longitudinal data systems.

Claim: FEPA doesn’t repeal CIPSEA but rather strengthens it.

Rebuttal: FEPA strengthens nothing. It merely reiterates the same penalties (fine and jail term) in existence since 2002 that have rarely or never been enforced. Worse, FEPA increases threats to privacy and data security by mandating increased access to confidential data and metadata and encouraging unlimited data-swapping with no provisions for data security.

Claim: FEPA “does not respond to the Commission’s recommendations to repeal any ban on the collection or consolidation of data.”

Rebuttal: FEPA directs agency heads to identify and report “any statutory or other restrictions to accessing relevant data . . . ” Because the entire thrust of the bill is to use more and more data for “evidence-building,” the inevitable next step will be to implement the Commission’s recommendation of repealing these pesky statutory obstacles to acquiring “relevant” data.

Claim:  FEPA will make better use of existing data.

Rebuttal:  The federal government has reams of data showing the uselessness or harm of existing programs. When the government continues to fund those programs despite this data (see Head Start and manifestly ineffective programs under ESEA), there’s no reason -none- to assume it will change its behavior with even more data.

 

The following list of contact information is supplied by Missouri Education Watchdog Cheri Kiesecker.  Please don’t just share this on social media; actually call, yourself.  Actually tweet, yourself.  Others may not be doing their part.  Please, do yours and a few extra calls, if you can.

The Senate version of the bill (S2046) has been read twice and was referred to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

Here is the list of the committee members.

The message is: vote no.  We don’t want information about private citizens shared at the national level, without any individual consent.

NO on  S.2046   NO on the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act of 2017 (FEPA).

(And, coming up soon:  No on S.1121 – College Transparency Act – for the same reason: student privacy.)

Thank you.

Happy Thanksgiving.

 

Please Call to Stop Student Privacy-Torching Bills Now   4 comments

It’s a good day to call Congress.

It’s a good week to call repeatedly.

I hope thousands will pick up their phones to call (202-224-3121) to halt the student/citizen privacy-torching bills that are now up for a vote.

 

Here’s why.

Bills that destroy privacy in the name of research are right now, quite incomprehensibly, being sponsored by Republicans Orrin Hatch, Paul Ryan, and Trey Goudy, as well as Democrat Patty Murray.

Even though public comment was overwhelmingly AGAINST the formation of a federal database on individual citizens, the bills are moving, without debate.

Missouri Education Watchdog pointed out:

“There was tremendous public opposition to the CEP Commission’s proposal to create a national student record, as stated on page 30 of the CEP report:

Nearly two-thirds of the comments received in response to the Commission’s Request for Comments raised concerns about student records, with the majority of those comments in opposition to overturning the student unit record ban or otherwise enabling the Federal government to compile records about individual students.’ ”  

Bless the dear soul of the CEP clerk who was honest enough to publish that important tidbit in the CEP’s report of public comment.  But still, the CEP ignored the public’s wishes, and now, Paul Ryan and friends plan to continue to ignore the American people and to skip the debate process that Congress is supposed to follow.

Here are the bills:

In both cases, the promotion byte for passage of the bills is the government’s desire to do “transparent” research on the people, for the people’s own good.  Congress calls this “evidence-based policymaking“.

But a stalker could call his studies evidence-gathering, too.  Without informed consent, there is no justification for evidence-gathering on individuals.  I honestly keep scratching my head as to why these representatives and senators don’t get it.  Is someone paying them to give away Americans’ rights?  Do they honestly, in their heart of hearts, not see that this is theft?

Many trustworthy sources are in a panic about this, as am I.  Read what Missouri Ed Watchdog, Education Liberty Watch, and McGroarty/Robbins have written about this:  here and here and here 
Months ago, I wrote about Ryan’s precursor, the Commission on Evidence-Based Policy (CEP) and its designs– here.
I recorded the core of what the Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking (CEP) was doing, after I’d painfully viewed hours of Ryan’s CEP Commission’s public meetings that promoted the benefits (to researchers and to the government) of creating a federal database of personally identifiable, individual information.  –By the way, no mention was ever made of gaining informed consent from citizens, prior to creating that database.  Lip service was given to the idea of “ensuring” that no unauthorized citizen could hack the federal database (an impossible thing to ensure).  At the time of the Commission’s posting of that video and my writing about it, I complained that their video was not embeddable.   Today, their video’s not even there.   Still, I do have an exchange, which I had typed up on that day:
The question was asked of the Commission:

“Let me try and ask what I think is a very difficult question …  you are working to bring data from other agencies or you have…  you’ve broadened their mission and you are bringing together data from many agencies and allowing researchers in and outside of government to access the data that you’ve brought together.  What are the ways that you could expand those efforts?  Um, and I’m not suggesting that we talk about a single statistical agency across government, but how could there be more of a coordination or maybe a virtual one statistical agency where census is playing a coordinating role, or what kinds of movements in that direction should we think about?…  What are the barriers to moving toward more coordination between the statistical agencies?”

The response at 1:29 from the CEP:

“… different rules that are attached to data that are sourced from different agencies or different levels of, you know, whether it’s federal or state… that if there was broad agreement in, that, you know, if there was one law that prosc–  had the confidentiality protections for broad classes of data, as opposed to, you know, here’s data with pii on it that’s collected from SSA, here’s data with pii on it that’s collected from the IRS; here’s data with pii on it that’s collected from a stateversus from a statistical agency– if data with pii on it was treated the same, you know I think that would permit, you know, organizations that were collecting pii-laden data for different purposes to make those data available more easily. Now, that’s probably a pretty heavy lift… do this in sort of baby steps as opposed to ripping the band aid. I think ripping the band-aid would probably not fly.”

 

 

 

So, months ago, Ryan’s CEP  admitted  that what it was doing would be considered unacceptable, so unacceptable that it “would probably not fly” so they ought to carefully trick the American people by moving toward such a centralized database in “baby steps”.

Yet, this week,  Ryan’s CEP has skipped its own recommended baby steps,  and is about to openly rip off more than just a band aid from the American people.

Congress is about to vote to rip off American privacy rights.

Pro-citizen-tracking Republicans and data-desperate researchers are making a bet that the American people are so asleep or confused or unconcerned, that we will say nothing while they make the theft of individual privacy justified, under new laws.

The CEP and Paul Ryan are undoubtedly good folks with research-driven intentions, butno good intention can supercede the vital importance of this basic American right: to keep personal privacy– to not be tracked, as an innocent citizen, without reason or warrant, by the government.

 

Please call and stop these bills.

Call Congress– 202-224-3121.  Or check the directory here. 

If you don’t know what to say, use this simple truth: that without individuals’ informed consent, it is theft to collect and store an innocent citizen’s personally identifiable information.  If an individual does this to another individual, it’s punishably wrong; if a government does it to individuals, even after voting itself into justification of the act, it’s still wrong.

Please call, and call, and call.  (202-224-3121)

 

 

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