Sep 242007

I know you’ve seen the Verizon ads… the one where some guy’s going about his daily business with a massive group of people trailing his every move. When asked, the protagonist, offhandedly remarks “Oh, that’s my network.” As if it’s perfectly natural to have a hundred folx with equipment following your every step. The idea behind the ad is to make you feel more secure. but as a fan of personal privacy, these ads scare the crap out of me. Last week, the U.S. District Court of Massachusetts confirmed that my paranoia was perfectly justified.

The court ruled that law enforcement need show only “relevance to an ongoing investigation” to get a historical record of your past movement based on the travels of your cell phone. Relevance? So, if they think you might be guilty of something, that would be relevant, right? If you bumped into someone on a crowded sidewalk and that person is being surveilled for some reason, then you might be “relevant”, right? If you once happened to be in the same chat room where someone was talking about about some crime, then your movements might be “relevant”, right?

Yeah, I know, I’m being ridiculous. Our government would never do anything like that to innocent people. And I’m sure you’re right about that. But then, why do they need permission to do so in the first place?

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