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Obama’s White House: New ways to spy?

KW: I totally missed this story, even though it is a week and a half old. Thanks to Adam Kokesh, who is running for Congress in New Mexico, for bringing it to my attention at his candidate web-site. The main story below is about the White House and a tips line for health care disinformation. Though, the last paragraph holds a whole new warning about a whole new battle. Posting the last paragraph first. Take note:

Privacy concerns also attended the administration’s use of YouTube, which came with an unusual exemption to White House rules banning the use of tracking software known as cookies. A White House proposal this month to permanently change the rules on cookies has again raised these concerns; the administration is seeking to overturn the ban on the use of cookies by federal Web sites.

(excerpt from) Washington Post
White House Drops Health-Care Tip Line
E-Mail Effort Raised Privacy Concerns

By Garance Franke-Ruta / August 19, 2009

After complaints from Republicans, the White House has shut down a two-week-old e-mail tip line where people could report “disinformation about health insurance reform…

The e-mail tip line, flag@whitehouse.gov, was launched Aug. 4 as part of the White House’s Health Insurance Reform Reality Check, a rapid-response effort reminiscent of the war room that the Obama campaign began last summer to fight online rumors about Obama’s patriotism and religion.

But the new effort quickly sparked concern among Republicans about the government collecting information on private citizens’ political speech.

“I am not aware of any precedent for a president asking American citizens to report their fellow citizens to the White House for pure political speech that is deemed ‘fishy’ or otherwise inimical to the White House’s political interests,”  Sen. John Cornyn (Tex.) wrote in an Aug. 5 letter to the White House that called for an end to the program.

“By requesting that citizens send ‘fishy’ emails to the White House, it is inevitable that the names, email addresses, IP addresses, and private speech of U.S. citizens will be reported to the White House. You should not be surprised that these actions taken by your White House staff raise the specter of a data collection program,” wrote Cornyn, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs sought to tamp down concerns at a briefing the next day, saying: “We’re not collecting names from those e-mails. . . . All we’re asking people to do is, if they’re confused about what health-care reform is going to mean to them, we’re happy to help clear that up for you. Nobody is keeping anybody’s names.”

Cornyn kept up the pressure, scoffing in an Aug. 7 statement: “Of course the White House is collecting names. As I wrote to the president, it is inevitable.”…

The issue surfaced again after it was reported that people were receiving e-mails from the White House that they had not signed up for…[The White House claimed that the e-mail problem was separate from the tip line problem.]

Privacy concerns also attended the administration’s use of YouTube, which came with an unusual exemption to White House rules banning the use of tracking software known as cookies. A White House proposal this month to permanently change the rules on cookies has again raised these concerns; the administration is seeking to overturn the ban on the use of cookies by federal Web sites.

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