White House Closes E-Tip Box Hopefully Reducing Right Wing Paranoia

The collection of email spreading false information on health care reform played well into the conservative tendencies to both play the victim and imagine conspiracy theories. The idea initially did not appear to have civil liberties ramifications. With conservatives choosing to fight health care reform by spreading misinformation, often through viral email, as opposed to engaging in honest debate, the White House thought it would help keep up with the misinformation campaigns to have emails sent to them for fact checking. The problem is that email might contain the name and always contains the email address of the recipient. Suddenly conservatives who had no qualms about actual surveillance during the Bush years are pretending to be civil libertarians in attacking this plan.

The collection of email contains another problem for the White House. Current laws prohibit them from editing it to remove identifying information or destroying the records. Such details of the law have enabled the right wing noise machine to further play on the paranoia of right wing conspiracy theorists such as in this item from Fox.

While there is no evidence that the White House was interested in collecting names as opposed to reviewing misinformation for debunking, after eight years of George Bush it is best to not even give such an appearance of compromising civil liberties. The White House has disabled the e-tip box less than two weeks after the program began. Now the right wingers can return to worrying about whether Barack Obama is a Muslim and where he was born.

Update: Response from the White House blog.

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