Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Surveillence State

I saw this a few days ago, and it really hit me.  This is a big part of why I am a Libertarian.  Although our current government may not be out to harm us, the technology available to it is scary.  All it would take would be one individual in the White House, Congress, or any of an ever-growing number of arms of the federal bureaucracy with less than kind intentions to turn this technology against us.

A state, or, for that matter, any other organization, which has the ability to monitor someone's every moves is only one short step away from controlling that individual.  Especially in our technology-driven world, where blogging, Tweeting, Facebooking, and texting are such large parts of our lives, this is scary.  The government can literally see where any American is planning on meeting their friends later this evening, what they had for dinner, who they took a photo with at the bar last night.  They can see your personal conflicts with friends, family, or your boss.  They can even tell whether you liked last night's episode of Glee.

Almost as concerning as the government's ability to collect this information is the fact that with our benevolent government, this is all useless information.  A true conspiracy theorist, or a pessimist, might fear that our government has sinister motives for wanting this information.  As an optimist, I believe that our government has no intention of misusing this information.  Why, then, are we paying thousands of people to collect and sift through it?  Why are we spending millions of dollars developing the technology to assist in this task?  As government debt and deficit rises, why are we wasting this money?

Just as importantly, there are actually bad people out there (within the U.S. and abroad).  As a highly trained, highly educated specialist sifts through my personal life via Facebook, this blog, Twitter, and my texts, how many of those bad people and their bad plans are slipping through the cracks?  As our government collects massive amounts of voice and text data from millions of American citizens, how many phone calls or messages planning the next major attack on America are sitting in a backlog of data somewhere?

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