We now learn that the White House , though a private contractor, and without anyone’s knowledge, is collecting and storing comments made on it’s social networking sites at Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Flickr, YouTube, Vimeo and Sideshare. The truly amazing part though is that the President is pointing to federal law as his justification for these actions.
The Presidential Records Act provides that the president must maintain all documents:
“created or received by the president, his immediate staff or a unit or individual of the Executive Office of the President whose function is to advise and assist the president, in the course of conducting activities which relate to or have an effect upon the carrying out of the constitutional, statutory, or other official or ceremonial duties of the President.”
To me, there are several troubling aspects about what the White House is doing.
First, a private contractor?
Second, anyone who posts a comment on, let’s say, the White House Facebook page, is not notified that their comments will be collected and archived. The folks on the left were outraged that the Patriot Act allowed wiretapping of suspected terrorists without their knowledge. I can only hope there is a similar outrage at collecting “speech” from ordinary Americans without their knowledge. Or will the double standard most cherished by the far left rear its ugly head once again?
Third, what is being collected and archived are comments posted on a third party web site. It seems a stretch to argue that this is some sort of “official correspondence with the President”, such as writing a letter to the President, or going to the White House official web site would be. But, at least with the latter two, you know your correspondence will be collected and archived.
And, finally, what happens with the information collected? Who will have access to it, and why? And, for what purpose will that information be used?