Ubiquitous Surveillance

Nothing new in this article, but it's nice to see it on the front page of The Washington Post.

Posted on January 18, 2007 at 2:02 PM • 13 Comments

Comments

ZwackJanuary 18, 2007 3:44 PM

I think the scariest part is when the follow up interview reveals how much she's being tracked and she says "I trust that they would see I'm a business person, a family person" Why would that protect you if you've been flagged as a terrorist?

I also like the fact that she "saves personal details for phone calls" when we all know that the phone system is so secure...

Z.

SauronJanuary 18, 2007 4:33 PM

One police state to rule them all,
One government database to find them,
One big brother to bring them all and in the darkness bind them

BunnyJanuary 18, 2007 6:26 PM

"But the government is seeking ways to effectively do so, for law enforcement and security."

Nice to see that the Post realises that these two things are not the same.

merkelcellcancerJanuary 19, 2007 4:09 AM

We wanted full and immediate access to the world through the Internet and data systems.

Now we are worried about the government tracking everything we do?

Imagine if this existed fifty years ago.

emeryjayJanuary 19, 2007 7:56 AM

Forget about technology and electronic surveillance for a moment. U.S. residents have never had a reasonable expectation of privacy in a public place. And that my friends has been in effect for hundreds of years.

I worry about the pretexters the most. I also am concerned about the commercial databases that we don't know about that may contain incorrect info. And don't get me started whining about data collectors who use sloppy data security practices.

In the past several years, my personal info has been on a stolen backup tape, and two different stolen laptops. I haven't had to pay for credit monitoring for years.

It's not going to get better.
But I still don't feel safe.


MadmanJanuary 19, 2007 10:59 AM

We in the US may not have a right to privacy in public (sort of makes sense just looking at the words, yes?), but this doesn't mean the government has the right to watch everything we're doing unless they have probable cause a crime has been committed or is about to be committed. The Constitution guarantees this, and it doesn't give the government all rights not spelled out, but grants those to the People!

Yes, when I'm in public, others may see me, and those close to me may hear what I'm saying. That's to be expected.

There is no expectation that I'm being watched from a long distance or that my voice is be captured from a long distance. Such monitoring from afar clearly has no such "history for hundreds of years" and should, in fact, not be allowed, unless there is reason to believe the person being monitored is a criminal (and there's a warrant allowing such monitoring).

This is simple in a free society, because allowing it means that people like Nixon and Bush and McCarthy and Hoover will use this against innocents or political adversaries during their witch trials.

There is no such right to monitor US citizens.

Matt from CTJanuary 19, 2007 12:48 PM

Question:

Is the violation of privacy:
a) The surveillance itself
or
b) The long-term storage of the surveillance so it can be "data-mined" at a much later point in time

Personally, it's the storage of this information beyond any immediate needs that is most troublesome.

Peter ZengerneufJanuary 19, 2007 12:53 PM

Didn't Cardinal Richelieu observe, "If I have any twelve words written in an innocent person's own hand, I can convict him."?
The power to monitor exists, independent of a right to use it as evidence. As access to surveillance amplifies, we need to amplify a person's right to feign freely, to disguise and dissemble, to protect one's self from others' immaterial yet arbitrary processes, even a government's, rather than trying to force everyone into bio-identification, ignorance, and inquisition, n'est-ce pas?
Fear of the Trickster becomes Fear of Everyone.

Matt from CTJanuary 19, 2007 1:01 PM

@Madman

Don't single out Republicans. Democrats have a long history of such violations as well.

Much of the "domestic wiretap" flak the Bush administration has received was enabled by technology installed during the Clinton administration and mandated by legislation sponsored by notable liberals.

And then they act like they're shocked it was abused.

Matt from CTJanuary 19, 2007 1:10 PM

@Peter

Was a bit of a tough google, but here it is:

"If you give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest of men, I will find something in them which will hang him."
- Duc de Richelieu 1585-1642

Add that this:
"Even a modestly competent district attorney can get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich."
- Sol Wachtler, Chief Judge of the New York State Court of Appeals

Be afraid. Be very afraid :)

JamesJanuary 19, 2007 1:45 PM

Most people just mind their own business. If you are minding your own business, you don't have time to mind mine. Of course most of the political people are minding everybody elses business, so it's a political issue.

"it's the storage of this information beyond any immediate needs that is most troublesome." Plus it's a big freaking waste of money.

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