Elinor Mills reports:
During the first Gulf War, Greg Nojeim went to Washington National Airport to observe Arab Americans being pulled out of lines and put through security checks that weren’t required of other passengers. The evidence he gathered was used by his employer, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, to sue Pan Am World Airways on allegations of racial profiling.
Nojeim is director of the Project on Freedom, Security, and Technology at the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit CDT. He has tackled government data mining, the Patriot Act, and wireless wiretapping, working to limit the threat that surveillance by officials and law enforcement poses to consumer privacy. He brought together a coalition of groups that worked to remove proposals from a 1996 antiterrorism law that would have given law enforcement increased wiretap authority to access records without court orders and broaden the type of records accessed. Nojeim is concerned about the ramifications of a government policy that allows officials to eavesdrop on citizens without proper justification.
“Who wants to live in a world where the government can listen in on every communication without any evidence of crime?” he said. “The consequences of that are that people won’t communicate freely and the country would be very different as a result. Imagine how your conversation with a close personal friend would change if you knew someone else was listening. That’s what is at stake. That’s what needs to be protected.”
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