Saturday, March 17, 2012

The state of the surveillance state

It’s hard not to be at least a little paranoid when I come across all the following articles in a single day not of concerted search on the subject, but simply following a few links I came across on Twitter:

  • The NSA Is Building the Country’s Biggest Spy Center (Watch What You Say) by James Bamford, longtime NSA watcher — I guess Utah is supposed to thank Orrin Hatch for bringing in some new jobs! Jobs and money über alles.
  • Democratic Senators Issue Strong Warning About Use of the Patriot Act — Senators Ron Wyden and Mark Udall say they are “skeptical about the actual value of the ‘intelligence collection operation’” where even the rules surrounding it are secret.
  • RIAA chief: ISPs to start policing copyright by July 1 — Comcast, Cablevision, Verizon, Time Warner Cable, and other Internet providers plan to monitor customers’ Internet traffic and issue warnings if in their opinion any copyright is violated, absent any legal requirement or framework.
  • How Not to Attract Tourists — “Imagine that you’re the citizen of a prosperous, democratic ally like Britain, Spain or Japan, and you’d like to visit America. Before traveling, you must pay $14 to complete an online United States government form called ESTA, short for Electronic System for Travel Authorization.” So we're becoming less welcoming to friendly visitors, like spoiled brats in our fortress. Only those who never travel internationally can ignorantly think such friction is no big deal.
  • New York passes DNA requirement for convicted criminals — Perhaps this seems reasonable if you don’t consider the United States’ absurdly high incarceration rate and the precedent the U.K. has already set by collecting DNA on every arrest, not just every conviction.

Lest anyone think U.S. citizens don’t care, I’ll make it clear for myself at least: I disapprove.

Some further reading and viewing with more philosophic and encouraging value: