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There’s still time left in the public comment period (which ends
March
8) for you to object to the FDIC’s evil and pernicious “Know Your
Customer” plan. As WorldNetDaily readers may know, the proposal (as
published in the December 7, 1998
Federal Register) requires that banks:

  • Determine their customers’ sources of funds.

  • Determine their customers’ “normal and expected transactions.”

  • Monitor customer transactions and identify transactions that are
    inconsistent with normal and expected transactions.

  • Report any “suspicious activity” to federal investigators.

  • Place limitations on amounts that can be withdrawn at any one
    time.

The ostensible point is to attack money-laundering techniques
employed
by drug traffickers and other criminals who hide illegal profits.
What this proposal will really do is to turn every bank teller into a
government informer and every individual with a bank account into a
criminal suspect. In a free society, the government has no business
asking where you got your money or when and why you spend it. And
politicians certainly have no right to force your bank to monitor your
account – a form of illegal, warrantless search that unquestionably
violates the Fourth Amendment.

Insight magazine reported in its last issue that, of the responses
received so far during this public comment period — which ends March 8
– more than 11,000 have been opposed to the program. Something like
ten are in favor. That’s good, but it’s not good enough.

We need more than a lopsided proportion of “no” responses. We need
numbers enough to constitute a major public uprising. The American
people’s views regarding this government-mandated invasion of their
privacy must be made both exquisitely and emphatically clear.

Why? Because I and many others suspect that those behind this
proposed surveillance system will simply retract their proposal. Then
they’ll rewrite it. They’ll eliminate telltale language like
“profiling,” claim what they’re doing is a mere formalization of the
status quo, and generally tidy the thing up so as to try and slip it
under our radar the next time around.

Only a true mass outpouring of condemnation, as witnessed by sheer
bulk of numbers, has any hope of creating enough of an impression to
make a difference. The mainstream media must not only notice the
story — as some have in fact been doing — but confer upon it the
status of an “issue.” Simply put, there must be weight to our
opposition — a weight that will only come with volume.

Turn up the volume.

Write to:

Robert E. Feldman

Executive Secretary

Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation

550 17th Street NW

Washington DC 20429

Fax: (202) 898-3838

Or, email comments@FDIC.gov — but bear in mind that a snail-mailed
or
faxed comment may have more of an impact on the un-cyber-savvy than an
emailed one. And include your name and address; anonymity is an
invitation for your message to be simply thrown out (and rudeness
won’t help your case, either).

With enemies like these…

Readers will no doubt be fascinated to discover that WorldNetDaily
has
a brand-new, self-appointed court jester, in the highly indignant
person of one Robert Holloway. Mr Holloway
is so shocked — shocked — at our nefarious goings-on that he has
recently instigated a Web page of his own, Patriotism or
Paranoia?
, apparently
devoted solely and specifically to the “careful examination and
debunking” of everything WorldNetDaily is and stands for.

Clearly Mr Holloway’s new site is in its first tremulous infant, if
not embryonic, stages: at this writing, it consists of nothing more
than a one-page general screed or mission statement, setting forth in
general terms his objections to what he is pleased to call “the
WorldNetDaily.” (I think I can say we’re flattered by the definite
article, since we like to think that, if multiple WorldNetDailies
exist, we’re definitely THE one to be reckoned with.) But if this
first essay is representative of Mr Holloway’s standards of debate,
it’s hard to imagine he’s going to pose us much of a serious
challenge.

The fundamental strain in Mr. Holloway’s world view that gives such
galvanizing force to his reaction against WorldNetDaily is his belief
(and please note that I am not, as Dave Barry would say, making this
up) in the essential goodheartedness and morality of those holding
“high governmental positions.” In what appears to be his only effort
so far to explain this touching faith, he poses a simple question: “If
we do not have good government now, when elections are competitive and
generally honest, can we ever expect anything better?”

It’s hard, really, to answer such towering naivete — it’s like
finding someone who has never heard of, say, plastics or the war in
Vietnam: where on earth do you begin? With the competitiveness and
honesty of elections? We could talk about campaign finance reform, we
could make special reference to Al Gore’s fundraising acumen, we could
bring up the bankrolling of the Clinton campaign by China, but unless
Mr. Holloway has been in a monastery or a nursery for the last several
years, it’s hard to imagine that he’s utterly ignorant of any of the
above. We’re not dealing with an innocent here, but with a true
believer.

Mr Holloway’s other contribution thus far consists of an apparently
serious attempt to associate WorldNetDaily with Timothy McVeigh and
the Oklahoma City bombing. He makes this connection on the grounds
that “distrust and suspicion of government” can lead to “death and
great suffering.” Ah, yes — the Big Brother argument: government is
always and by nature benevolent, and (therefore) to suggest otherwise
is the act of a criminal and a terrorist. Some of us have always felt
that vocal and public dissent was a sign of life and health in a
democratic republic, but I guess we must be the naive ones.

I feel sure we shall all of us await further salvos from Mr.
Holloway’s
corner with the keenest interest.

Fax wars

Getting plenty of buzz lately is the just-rechristened
eFax.com, previously JetFax, which has
lately launched a free service wherewith you can use email to send and
receive faxes. According to the Wall Street Journal, New York’s
JFAX.com, a previous entrant in the
category, was not amused by the name change.

Often, in new ecommerce categories aborning, it’s the first company
to
capture the imaginations of users and investors via first-rate
publicity that ultimately comes to control the category, which is not
necessarily the first to come up with the idea — nor the best to
execute it. If the category proves robust enough, though, there may
be room at the top for more than one — particularly in a category
that becomes major enough for innovation and differentiation to take
place.

The market in Web search engines, for instance, even after the recent

spate of mergers, is very far from being monopolized. Not only are
multiple heavyweights (of the order competitive with
Yahoo!) still in the search game, but new and
exciting young upstarts continue to arrive on the scene — witness the
first-rate Google, whose “smart,”
relevance-based search engine has become my own first resort. Some
older also-rans, like the natural-language-based Ask
Jeeves
, continue to refine their
well-differentiated offerings to an increasingly competitive edge as
well.

Fax-to-email sites may prove to be just one more minor
yeah-you-can-do-that-on-the-Net-so-what convenience, but they may be
more. After all, they essentially eliminate the need for fax
machines, making a major piece of standard office equipment that often
requires its own phone line next to obsolete. (The privacy-conscious
may continue to prefer using a plain phone line for faxing, rather
than involve email at all.) If fax-to-email proves huge, we’ll likely get the chance to see how
well both eFax and JFAX manage their newly-carved-out chunks of Net
territory.

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