Commentary

Protect Mainers’ privacy by ending the MIAC

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“Thoughtcrime was not a thing that could be concealed forever. You might dodge successfully for a while, even for years, but sooner or later they were bound to get you.” – George Orwell, “1984”

My colleagues on the Maine Legislature’s Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee held a public hearing Monday on LD 1278, a bill that I am co-sponsoring with Republicans, Democrats and Independents to end the Maine Information Analysis Center Program.

The year may be 2021, but we continue to find ourselves moving towards a perpetual Orwellian 1984.  The Maine Information and Analysis Center is evidence of that. Americans were not meant to live in a cage bound by their own government to exist only to pay taxes and be spied upon in the name of security.

The Bill of Rights restricts government power and its endless quest for expansion. In fact, the First, Third, Fourth and Fifth Amendments all protect Americans’ inherent right to privacy. Furthermore, the Ninth Amendment doubles down on Americans’ right to privacy even outside of the Constitution, saying, “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”

Americans’ rights to privacy are explicitly clear and fundamental. They always have been, and that has not changed. Having a state-run, mass surveillance operations center whose activities can neither be confirmed nor denied is a danger to all of our civil rights. We must push back and keep government power in check.

We do not need illegal databases of law-abiding gun owners or secret data collection on law-abiding citizens. Security should never be weaponized against American citizens. It must never be a binary choice between liberty or security, because if it is, then we’ll have neither.

Federal, state and local government agencies working together to amass surveillance, data mine and track social media traffic against unaware and lawful citizens is wrong, illegal and dangerously close to the “You show me the man, I’ll show you the crime” dark days of Stalinism. 

The Maine Information and Analysis Center is an illegal espionage Frankenstein sewn together from top-down governmental intelligence agencies that operate unabated. This monster should never have been brought to life.

I’ll probably be put on a ‘No Fly’ list for the rest of my life and can expect an IRS audit for my support of this bill, but it’s the right thing to do because fusion centers like the MIAC are wrong for free people in a constitutional Republic.

Mainers deserve to have their sacred liberty, privacy and birthright to be secure in their persons, house, papers and effects, protected. I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting LD 1278 this session.

About John Andrews

Representative John Andrews represents House District 73, which includes the towns of Paris, Buckfield and Hebron.

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