[FoRK] J.Edgar's FBI returning??

Stephen Williams sdw at lig.net
Mon Oct 19 23:04:48 PDT 2009

J. Andrew Rogers wrote:
> On Oct 19, 2009, at 5:11 PM, Ken Ganshirt @ Yahoo wrote:
>> Is this worrisome? (I'm Canadian so I'm not sure .. is this as bad as 
>> the author makes it sound?) Two pages but not long.
> This kind of thing has been commonplace and very active since at least 
> the mid-1990s, and probably far longer in some form. The technology 
> leveraged is a lot more powerful than it used to be and there is a 
> pretty strong uptick as of late, but the basic pattern is old. The pet 
> applications vary with the administration.
> Whether or not it is "worrisome" is subjective and contextual. It is 
> not a new development, though some applications are. I have no useful 
> opinion, but this should help put it into perspective.

It is not unusual, however it should be strictly controlled and the 
information obtained only usable for certain purposes, such as 
anti-terrorism.  And the watchers need to be watched.

Really, if "they" get this right, we the people should have a 
corresponding right to watch them.  Unfortunately, many interesting ways 
of watching them would be considered highly illegal.  Some people have 
no sense of humor.  Congress should be overseeing them with vigor to 
make sure that nothing untoward slips by.  That was not the case under 
the GOP, at least.  I really liked the old FCC rule, superseded by the 
damn cell companies, that you could receive and decode any signal you 
were capable of, but that there were restrictions on what you did with 
official traffic.

It is a little weird for the government to know, say, all about your sex 
life or whatever.  On the other hand, if the privacy controls are more 
or less equivalent to a compartmentalized "top secret" classification, 
unless and until you are a confirmed terrorist threat, it's not so bad.  
As long as you can extract severe penalties for abuse and loss and there 
is protection against cover up, it is a relatively safe system.  It 
should be no worse than your doctor or attorney knowing something.  Not 
that we are there yet.

In reality, most people in government are very good people.  A bad actor 
is probably going to be found out by his coworkers long before a typical 
citizen suffers from corruption.  Notwithstanding a high error rate in 
the "last mile" of law enforcement or overseas assignments with 
contractor security companies.


More information about the FoRK mailing list