White House "Tip Line" raises concerns

    The White House is working hard to counter what officials call wrong and misleading information about President Obama’s proposals for health care reform. And they are asking citizens to help, by forwarding emails and internet posts on the issue. But there is some concern about the government’s approach.

    The White House is working hard to counter what officials call wrong and misleading information about President Obama’s proposals for health care reform. And they are asking citizens to help, by forwarding emails and internet posts on the issue. But there is some concern about the government’s approach.

    Listen:
    [audio: 090807mstipline.mp3]

    In a post on the White House blog, officials are asking citizens to share anything containing quote “fishy” information about President Obama’s health care reform proposal.

    White House officials say they are asking citizens to forward the materials so that they can better respond to wrong information and clarify issues.

    Some civil liberty advocates are concerned. Lara Brown is assistant professor of political science at Villanova University. She says government programs like this make people feel like they are being watched, and thus limit freedom of speech and public discourse.

    Brown: they are about making individuals I think more cautious and concerned about all of their public behavior.

    Brown says this kind of program also gives the government access to information they wouldn’t otherwise have.

    Brown: What is I think a bit nerve-wrecking about this program is that people are being asked to essentially turn over information of other people who are not necessarily volunteering to turn over that kind of information.

    In a statement, the ACLU says the program might raise fears about data collection and sends a troublesome message, chilling the right to free speech.

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