Editorial: Writing Weblogs and Potential Consequences

In light of the news that Federal Agents seize travel bloggers computer, a rare editorial is being posted here at The Gate, whose primary purpose is to highlight content posted on FlyerTalk. As a disclaimer, the opinions expressed in this editorial are solely mine and not necessarily endorsed by anyone or any organization officially associated with FlyerTalk.

As one who writes a weblog, it is unfortunate that what happened to fellow travel “bloggers” Steven Frischling and Christopher Elliott cannot happen to me. I say unfortunate because content that is posted here at The Gate is always linked to its source, which is content posted publicly on FlyerTalk.

A chilling effect was sent throughout the world of social media when federal agents can come to the door of the home of a “blogger” and subpoena that person in front of his or her family, threatening potential consequences if the person does not comply with an order to reveal his or her source.

Frankly, if the federal government, armed with departments which include the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Central Intelligence Agency and the Secret Service, cannot figure out for themselves the source of a directive of the Transportation Security Administration leaked to the public and posted by a “blogger” — let alone prevent a potential terrorist, illegal alien or other possible suspect individuals from crossing the borders and entering into the United States of America — then it has no business in attempting to invoke fear tactics on “bloggers” who report on the information they receive from their sources, especially if reports from various sources confirm that neither Frischling nor Elliott compromised national security by posting the information they obtained to post in their respective weblogs. The main purpose of this form of intimidation is to forcibly quiet those who report on alleged questionable practices performed by the federal government in an attempt to cover their mistakes. This cannot be allowed to succeed in a democratic republic.

With the apparent bungling and mishaps of the federal government regarding the safety of its citizens in recent years that have been reported by the media — including but not limited to weblogs — it is the responsibility of those who report to keep the United States government in check and not cross boundaries that may potentially create a “slippery slope” that could lead to further and more egregious actions, possibly endangering the very freedoms and rights currently protected for — and enjoyed by — American citizens. While most sensitive and classified information cannot and should not be released publicly for security reasons, the American public has a right to be kept informed as to the latest information of what is going on with their government, as the American government was created for the people, by the people.

My advice to fellow “bloggers” is to take the information they post in their weblogs once it is published, transfer it to at least one portable method of media such as a USB flash drive or compact disc, and store it in an undisclosed secure location. It is imperative to protect to flow of information, especially if it can expose shortcomings, in order to assist in leading to the improvement of how the American public can be better served by its government.

If the federal government had properly performed its job and lived up to its responsibilities to its citizens, “bloggers” would not have the controversial information to post in the first place. Instead of harassing those who write weblogs and report the information they receive from their sources, the federal government should concentrate its resources and efforts on finding out how to prevent information not meant for public knowledge from being leaked in the first place.

2 thoughts on “Editorial: Writing Weblogs and Potential Consequences”

  1. Steve K says:

    If you store the data offsite, or in the cloud, the same subpoena process can get it, too. In addition, you might not even know that it has been requested/seized.

    I would recommend encryption as a step before backup, using a high quality product like Axcrypt, truecrypt, securezip, or even winzip.

    Even if you’re forced to disclose the key, you’ll at least know about the seizure.

  2. Steve K says:

    If you store the data offsite, or in the cloud, the same subpoena process can get it, too. In addition, you might not even know that it has been requested/seized.

    I would recommend encryption as a step before backup, using a high quality product like Axcrypt, truecrypt, securezip, or even winzip.

    Even if you’re forced to disclose the key, you’ll at least know about the seizure.

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