The Land of the Free?  Does Technology Threaten Our Privacy, Morality and Freedom of Religious Expression?
Does Technology Threaten Our Privacy, Morality and Freedom of Religious Expression?

It's great to be an American!

After all, as a citizen of the United States, I am assured of certain inalienable rights, like a right to privacy, freedom of speech, a free press, the right to publicly assemble, and freedom of religious expression, just to name a few.

In fact, it's precisely that constitutional guarantee of our first amendment rights to those freedoms that make America the greatest nation on the face of the Earth today.  Recently however, events in the news and things that I've read in highly respected sources have troubled me.

Could these freedoms that we typically take for granted be in jeopardy?

We are all aware, that advancements in new technologies are reshaping the world we live in.  Major breakthroughs in such fields as medicine, genetics, bio-engineering, nano technology, and computer electronics have become almost common place. 

The rate at which science and technology are beginning to restructure our society is fast out pacing our ability to assess their impact on our culture, our environment and our everyday lives.

Our courts for example are increasingly finding themselves in great moral dilemma.  Issues like the cloning of human beings and the harvesting of placentas from aborted fetuses for their use in stem cell research, are but two good examples of this. 

This tobacco plant has had the firefly gene inserted in its DNA. Those are the leaf veins that are glowing yellow.


Similar woes have also arisen in the area of biotechnology and agriculture. Scientists in this field have created dozens of bizarre hybrids, including a strain of tobacco that actually glows in the dark; the result of a combinative DNA experiment between the tobacco plant and the firefly.  What practicality or purpose a freakish creation like this has, is beyond my comprehension.  More than likely, it was just the Frankensteinien whimsy of some egotistical bioengineer.

Recently, a new biogenetically altered strain of corn not approved for human consumption called "StarLink," found it's way into our food chain.  The StarLink, which surfaced on our supermarket shelves in the form of taco shells, caused an outbreak of near fatal allergic reactions in some of the people who ate them.  Apparently this hybrid strain of corn, created by gene splicing the grain with DNA from a certain bacterium, got into the food chain because silos that once stored the StarLink, were refilled with corn marked for human consumption.  The residual amount of StarLink left in the silos contaminated the good corn, which was then sold commercially to national food manufacturers.  Before this incident, the FDA had assured concerned consumer organizations that there wasn't any chance that StarLink could ever wind up in our food chain. 

In the year 2000, Illinois planted 17,000 acres of StarLink corn., Nationwide, 315,000 acres of the corn were planted. Another 168,000 acres were planted as buffer areas to prevent cross-pollination.


Another study on StarLink, concerned with the environmental impact of this new breed of insect repellent corn (that is only supposed to harm the insect pests that commonly plague corn crops), shows that it has also been killing off the Monarch butterfly in alarming numbers.  On a brighter note, the same science has taken the gene for beta carotene production from carrots and spliced it into the rice plant, yielding a new orange tinged strain.  This "Golden Rice" as it is called, is now saving the eyesight of the countless victims of famine world wide, who without this Vitamin A fortified strain of rice, would undoubtedly have gone blind.

So I suppose we can say that it's not technology in and of itself, but the way in which man uses technology that is the real problem.  How could we be so spiritually presumptuous as to think that man really has the wisdom to know whether or not his scientific meddling with God's creation is justifiable?

Just as Technology is shaping our culture as a whole, it is also having a great impact on us individually.

Statistically, one out of every three people in this country either own or use a computer regularly.  The number of cell phones in use today is staggering.  Within just a few short years their usage has become so prevalent in our society, that laws are already being passed banning them as a danger on our highways and a nuisance in public places such as restaurants, and movie theaters.

The Internet has opened the door of the world to all of us.  Almost anything one would care to know about any subject you could possibly think of, is now just a mouse click away, as are millions of people world wide who are surfing The Net the same time you are.  Unfortunately along with all the benefits one finds on the net, there are also the detriments.  Although one could undoubtedly find more knowledge on the Internet than was stored in antiquity at the great library in Alexandria, Egypt, the sad truth is that pornography is the number one source of computer down loads on the World Wide Web today.

Many of us have made new friends in online chatrooms.  It's great to communicate with people from all over the world that perhaps share our passions for the love of art, music or the like.  Yet these same chatrooms are often insidious cyber hideouts for perverts and pedophiles whose intention is to lure unsuspecting victims, usually children, into some lurid and dangerous circumstance under false pretenses.

To put in perspective how important the Internet has become in our society today, E- mail communication has caused the U.S. Post Office mail load to drop by 40%, and telephone companies world wide have experienced an uncomfortable and unprecedented decline in long distance calling.

And so these rapidly advancing technologies continue to mold our society and our lives.  At home, at school, where we work, where we play, at the market and in the sky above our heads, it's ever present.  We as individuals, seemingly powerless to stop it, become accepting and complacent victims to the inevitable changes it brings to bear on us.

The amount of intelligence gathering and surveillance of the general populace in this country today has become down right alarming and is certainly a cause for all our concern.

Each video camera does not operate in isolation. Vast networks tie tens, even hundreds, of cameras together, allowing footage from many sites to be compiled, watched and stored at a central database.


By now we have all become only too used to the video surveillance cameras we encounter almost everywhere we go.  They're in our banks, our markets and our department stores.  They're in our airports, our bus terminals and our sports stadiums.  We all recognize the necessity, yes even the benefit these surveillance measures have in these type of establishments and we've come to expect them there.

Unfortunately there is also a dark side that lurks here.  Surveillance technology like all the others, has become extremely sophisticated.  Today, most people are completely unaware of just how much they are being watched and listened to, each and every day as they go about their lives.

Many cities across the nation have long been using video camera's at traffic lights, intersections and toll booths.  I'm sure many a would be light jumper, or toll runner, thinking he had slid in under the radar, was shocked to find a summons for the violation along with a photo of his vehicle and plate number in his mailbox a week or so later.

Again, at face value this may appear harmless to most people, even practical, since traffic violators should be punished for their infringements - so once again we let technology rob another little bit of our privacy.

Interestingly, just this week, Texas congressman Dick Armey (himself a staunch right wing Republican) speaking on this very subject, called attention to the fact that the yellow lights at these surveilled intersections had been shortened by a second or more, substantially raising the number of motorists cited, thus greatly increasing the revenues gained from such infractions.Armey called this "Big Brother" like practice, illegal and invasive of our constitutional right to privacy. 

In several cities video surveillance networks have already been established.By placing cameras at each and every corner, a cross grid of eyes and ears is set up throughout an entire city that feeds directly into a central police computer bank.  If for example, shots are fired anywhere in one of these so monitored cities, computers analyzing the audio and video data from this gridwork can determine the exact location of the incident in a matter of milli-seconds and immediately be able to hear and view the area of the crime in progress while dispatching the necessary

FaceIt, face recogognition technology, which was used at the 2001 SuperBowl, is now being used in areas of Tampa Bay. Other city's such as Virginia Beach have applied for state grants to install similiar systems.


personnel directly to the scene.

At the Superbowl this past year, eighty thousand unsuspecting fans sat and watched the spectacle, totally oblivious to the fact that while they watched the game, Uncle Sam was watching them.  As each fan filed into the stadium that Superbowl Sunday, they were digitally photographed.  Their photo's were then sent through a computerized face recognition software program that compared them to the mug shots of thousands of known criminals within milliseconds.  Though no arrests were made, some 15 wanted felons were positively identified at the stadium that day. 

Two new powerful multi-billion dollar eavesdropping tools originally invented to spy on the Russians have now been turned on the American people.

One of the extremely high tech systems, Echelon, intercepts and analyzes all telephone calls, faxes and E-mails sent to and from the United States.  Run by the National Security Agency (NSA), Echelon is almost exclusively funded by the American taxpayer even though it is actually an international spying alliance that includes Canada, Britain, Australia, New Zealand and to a lesser extent, Italy and Turkey.  In a nut shell, the spy network was formed to eavesdrop by intercepting radio signals and unscrambling encrypted messages.  It is estimated that if you place or answer an overseas call, there is a 90% chance that the NSA is listening.  The system's voice recognition capability is so sophisticated and it's super computers so fast, that if Saddam Hussein were making a call, his voice would be identified the moment he started speaking! 

Another highly classified system dubbed Tempest, can peer through the walls of your home with a new technology that allows the Government to secretly read the displays on personal computers, cash registers, and automatic teller machines, from a distance of half a mile away.

Even more insidious than either Echelon or Tempest is Carnivore, a new computer surveillance technology that monitors all communications world wide in search of "trigger words" or names that might indicate to our intelligence agencies an individuals involvement  in some type of illegal or terrorist activity.  In such an instance any individual innocently using one of these buzz words, could be subjected to all types of personal surveillance, including phone taps and even the covert entry and bugging of their home.

With each passing day we are losing more and more of our freedoms, yet, most of us are totally oblivious to this fact.  How much more can we afford to lose before we realize that all the guarantees and safeguards written into our Constitution by our wise and prudent forefathers have all but been lost?  For surely, if we continue allowing man to set the tenets by which we live and his science to be the conscience of our society, the freedoms we cherish most, will not be ours much longer.

The precedents have been established; the ground work has been laid.

From the first video cams in our banks and markets, and the surveillance satellites that can now read the writing on a cigarette pack from a few hundred thousand feet in the sky, to the technology of Tempest that peers through our walls to see what's on our computers and TV screens, our guarantee to privacy is eroding away as quickly as the proverbial American Dream.  Like the dogs in Pavlov's experiment, we have all been conditioned to accept almost without question, the radical and sometimes immoral changes that misguided science and runaway technology are literally burying us in.

If not for a few brave opponents of these intrusive practices, such as a few governmental watchdog organizations speaking out against this dangerous shift toward totalitarianism, the public would for the most part be totally unaware of the extent these covert intrusions penetrate into their lives.

I believe it's time we step back and take a long hard look at where we seem to be heading, for the road we're walking down is not unlike one we've gone down before.

Remember -
It wasn't long ago that a common street thug rose to power in Europe and almost conquered the free world in the middle of this past century.
He too misused technology:
He used the press, as well as the radio and the movies, two of the newest inventions of his day, as tools of Nazi propaganda

The German V-2 rocket, Hitler's "brain child" of World War II.
After Germany's defeat many of the V-2 scientists were sent to the U.S. to assist in our missile program


He gave the Gestapo a free hand in opening private correspondence, wire tapping, and spying on individual citizens. 
He used psychology and mind control to create an atmosphere of paranoia and fear, unparalleled in history.  Even brain washing chidren to have such loyalty to the state that they would betray their own parents if they heard them say the slightest negativity about the party or the Fuehrer.
He built the most advanced submarines, tanks, planes and battleships of the time.
He also used the most advanced rocket technology of his day to rain destruction down on his enemies.
His scientists were the first to research and begin work on atomic weapons.
To compensate for his country's resource deficiencies, he commissioned scientists to devise some of the first synthetic products ever made, such as gas from coal and synthesized rubber.
Ironically, he even tried to create a race of supermen through genetics by selectively breeding the physically strong and mentally superior, while weeding out those he deemed weak and feeble minded - a mentality that undoubtedly led to the extermination of almost an entire race of people just on the basis of their spiritual convictions.

For now, we all still enjoy our right to freedom of religious expression.
Soon, as any student of Bible prophecy knows, another powerful dictator will succeed where Hitler failed and enslave most of mankind, robbing the world of all the liberties we take so for granted in the western world today, including our right to freely worship.
So follow the bold example of those who have spoken out against these intrusions into our lives.

Write to your senators and congressional representatives expressing your disapproval of these covert and invasive practices.

Take heed of the signs of these times and let God, not man, guide your spirit; and His word, not science, be the code you live by.

For what man has guaranteed, you can lose tomorrow, but what God has promised, will be yours forever.

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Land of the Free? by Joseph Santora - - ©2001-2002 True Christian Ministries

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