People Care About Privacy When John Oliver Sells It To Them

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver just did a bang-up job showing off the newest in government surveillance law in the United States. Such a bang-up job, in fact, that the YouTube release of the 33-minute segment has garnered nearly 3-million views in less than two days. As Oliver explains, no one cared about the government surveillance program known as the Patriot Act for the first decade it was active, authorized, and re-authorized after it was enacted following September 11, 2001. Fast forward to June of 2013 and Edward Snowden infamously revealed the goings-on of the NSA – fast forward to 2015 and John Oliver is interviewing Edward Snowden.

John Oliver's crew went to Times Square, NYC, New York to see if the average passer-by knew who Edward Snowden was and what he did. Surprise – it's not especially important to the average citizen who this man is and what he's done.

The piece comes to a head when Oliver shows Representative James Sensenbrenner commenting on Section 215 of the Patriot Act. That section reads as follows:

"The Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation or a designee of the Director (whose rank shall be no lower than Assistant Special Agent in Charge) may make an application for an order requiring the production of any tangible things (including books, records, papers, documents, and other items) for an investigation to protect against international terrorism or clandestine intelligence activities, provided that such investigation of a United States person is not conducted solely upon the basis of activities protected by the first amendment to the Constitution."

It's broad. It's very broad.

Sensenbrenner, the self-professed "principal author of the Patriot Act," suggests, (in a government session included around 11 minutes in to this John Oliver broadcast,) that he can "without qualification that congress never did intend to allow bulk collections when it did pass Section 215, and no fair reading of the text would allow for this program."

Oliver responds, saying "that's the legislative equivalent of Lewis Carroll seeing the Tea Cups ride at Disney Land and saying 'this has to be reigned in, no fair reading of my text would allow for this ride – you've turned my perfectly nice tale of psychedelic pedophelia into a garish vometorium!'"

Have a peek at the full segment above, and please, by all means, contact your local representative to speak about Section 215 of the Patriot Act and – of course – the rest of the program if you find as much wrong with it as Oliver.