Taking away fundamental rights in an 'open' and 'free' society tends to be hard to do in big chunks. Pull away too many rights at one time and you risk awakening the populace. So generally things tend to happen quietly, slowly, in small pieces and always for "good reasons". It's not so much a conspiracy but the inevitable 'function creep' of all governments. The only way to stop this creeping loss of freedom is to publicly identify it and fight to have our freedoms restored.
John Gilmore, founder of the EFF amongst other accomplishments, carefully explains just how many of our freedoms of travel, association and employment have been made subject to the U.S. government's whim. I've read a lot about Mr. Gilmore's efforts to fight this most recent theft of liberty, but I still found his latest missive compelling for its stark and simple presentation of the facts. Well worth reading.