Senator Cornyn notes
I am not aware of any precedent for a President asking American citizens to report their fellow citizens to the White House for pure political speech that is deemed ‘fishy’ or otherwise inimical to the White House’s political interests,” Sen. Cornyn wrote. “You should not be surprised that these actions taken by your White House staff raise the specter of a data collection program. As Congress debates health care reform and other critical policy matters, citizen engagement must not be chilled by fear of government monitoring the exercise of free speech rights.
You can see a PDF of the letter here.
But wait . . . there's more. Imagine, if you would, cross referencing those forwarded emails to the White House with another database the Obama Administration has ordered set up.
Congress adopted the Broadband Data Improvement Act in 2008 to compile of map of the nation showing which areas have broadband and which do not. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration is getting the information, but the Obama Administration has decided to use the NTIA to get more than the law requires.
Beyond the general data on which parts of the nation have high speed internet access and is it cable or DSL, Obama wants to know down to the individual what the individual has and how much the individual pays. Specifically, the NTIA is now requiring internet provides to give the government "average revenue per end user and data regarding type, technical specification or location of broadband infrastructure," i.e. your home address, IP address, how much you pay, and where the connection is at your house.
The law does not require it. Congress does not want it. The NTIA admits the information will not be used to compile the map of national broadband, but Barack Obama still wants it.
We have a White House asking neighbors to turn in neighbors by forwarding emails — some of which will contain IP address information. And we have the White House demanding internet providers provide them with the home addresses corresponding to those IP addresses. Lastly, we have a White House that has thus far been extremely opaque despite pledges of transparency and a White House that has not hesitated to use private citizens information when it benefits them.