Skip to main content

Say Goodbye to Your Rights

I'm sure this will get it's requisite 5 minutes on the evening news, right before the critical update on Desperate Housewives, and then disappear from the headlines, but it shouldn't. Michael Kostelnik, assistant commissioner at Homeland Security's Customs and Border Protection Bureau, told the House Transportation subcommittee on Wednesday that:

"We need additional technology to supplement manned aircraft surveillance and current ground assets to ensure more effective monitoring of United States territory."


To what was he referring? Unmanned aerial drones. These things.

Excuse me? Did a government official just ask the House of Representatives to allow Homeland Security to spy on Americans? How could that possibly be abused?

In a scene that could have been inspired by the movie "Minority Report," one North Carolina county is using a UAV equipped with low-light and infrared cameras to keep watch on its citizens. The aircraft has been dispatched to monitor gatherings of motorcycle riders at the Gaston County fairgrounds from just a few hundred feet in the air--close enough to identify faces--and many more uses, such as the aerial detection of marijuana fields, are planned.

Wait, what did the motorcycle riders do that warranted surveillance? Was a crime being committed? Had anyone threatened to commit a crime? Is riding a motorcycle now probable cause to have you activities monitored by law enforcement?

This is very, very dangerous territory. Allowing routine flyovers of whatever patch of ground a law enforcement agency wants to watch is basically a blank check to watch anyone in the America, with no warrant. That means they can watch you in your back yard just because. Own a gun? I bet the cops would be very interested in you if you started shooting with a group of friends in a field. Got illegal fireworks? There might be a drone circling on the 4th of July.

Read 1984 and tell me you aren't the least bit concerned about this kind of news story.

Link

Comments

  1. Big Brother is watching you every second of the day. The co-worker next to you more than likly works for the FBI or other government agency. Either way in today's world we will be watched all the time.

    ReplyDelete
  2. But that's the wrong way to have to think. No one should have to assume that they're being watched. Allowing more intrusion is the worst response to an intrusion.

    What's to stop law enforcement from extending this in the future. They've been overflying your property for a few weeks, but can't really determine that you've done nothign wrong, so now they can just enter your home (without a warrant) and take a look around?

    All of this smacks the face of presumed innocence in this country. Flying around watching eveyone is an act of law enforcement that implies that you (not someone, you) have done something illegal. Not only that, they get to it without oversight from a court. Why not just force everyone to install a camera in their driveway?

    It's unconstitutional and downright wrong. It should offend every American.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Happy Retirement Pat Sweeny!

In a previous life, I was an active member of the West Michigan Shores Chapter of the STC. I met a lot of really cool people there and learned a lot about what it meant to be not just a technical writer, but more about how technical writers can break out of the mold and accomplish things.

One of the people who did that was Pat Sweeny. Pat is (or was, by this point) the President and owner of The Bishop Company, a contract do-it-all house; they document, streamline and illustrate your process, and they do it damn well. Pat was one of the first people in that chapter to "get it", which is to say, he and his company understand that technical writing isn't going to be a department for very much longer, it's going to be a business.

He had the foresight to actually make it a business, but he also had something else. Pat was forever trying to better those around him. He would come to meetings (which was a big step beyond most people) and teach you things. Or he would come to …

Google Inbox: A classic Google product

My work domain (an EDU) recently had Google Inbox enabled so I had a good chance to try it out. My personal email is relatively quiet and, I believe, doesn't provide a good Inbox experience. Work is more active and requires actual management, something I've tossed many a tool at over the years. As part of my work life, I supported the Google Apps for EDU installation here and took a pretty extensive presentation to campus about how to manage large amounts of email.

Inbox is a classic Google product: the distillation of a number of excellent ideas into a set of half-complete features built for a use case most people don't meet. We've seen this in the past in products like ChromeVox, Google's Chrome extension for accessibility. ChromeVox works great on ChromeOS devices, but completely ignores the point that most users of accessibility tech (AT) don't have or want ChromeOS devices and come to services with their AT in tow. ChromeVox also ignores decades of convent…

Evernote

Evernote, for better or worse, is the best note-taking service for my needs. It works across all my devices/computers/modes. It's fairly easy to get stuff into it. Hell, they even have 2-Factor authentication. The Windows app is a little clunky and my girlfriend and I have never been able to get shared notes to work properly (conflicted note! three times in the same grocery trip!), but what service is perfect? At least they have nice socks.

Everything, in fact, is pretty good as long as you don't screw up. And screw up I did. I'm not very regular about making backups, but I do make them every month or so. Once you figure out how to create a backup, that is.

There's a helpful Export Note option (which turns into Export Notes when you select multiple notes HINT). The export process is essentially opening All Notes, selecting every note, and then choosing Export Notes. Or something like that; Evernote never tells you, you're left to figure it out on your own. The file…