“But I doubt that the proud men who wrote the charter of our liberties would have been so eager to open their mouths for royal inspection,” Justice Scalia, dissenting in Maryland v. King (2013) … this has nothing to do with data mining by the government, but it should have been the lead news story all week.
The Verizon cell phone story fascinates me, but not because of the legal or public policy equities at stake. It is the sensationalist reporting that strikes me as just a bit off the mark. It is legal and depending on what part of the civil liberties spectrum you come under, constitutional.
No doubt that America should have a national discussion about the role of government in the 21st century, including in this area involving national security and civil liberties. Former CIA Director Hayden has said as much many times, most recently during an interview on a Fox News special on data mining and related matters.
I think most Americans could care less about whether Verizon, AT&T, Sprint are complying with court orders to hand over metadata records to the government. We give a lot more information to friends, family, and, indeed, the world via Facebook posts and tweets. And, guess what, once you place that information in the public domain private companies, and yes, the government, has free and constitutional access to all of it.
Rather than create a political boogeyman by beating up on the National Security Agency or the CIA — political scapegoating is this town’s favorite pastime — Congress and the Obama Administration should make an effort to better educate people about what these programs entail. There is a lot that cannot be shared, but what can be discussed seems to be poorly communicated. This should have been a non-media event yesterday.
And for those of us that enjoy posting on blogs or tweeting on just about everything, if your concerned about your privacy: don’t post it. At not until we sort out what the parameters happen to be. A more interesting development, but one that barely registered a blip, was the Supreme Court’s decision on DNA collection of individual who have been arrested but not found guilty of any crime, Maryland v. King. From Justice Scalia’s dissent:
Make no mistake about it: As an entirely predictable consequence of today’s decision, your DNA can be taken and entered into a national DNA database if you are ever arrested, rightly or wrongly, and for whatever reason …
Today’s judgment will, to be sure, have the beneficial effect of solving more crimes; then again, so would the taking of DNA samples from anyone who flies on an airplane (surely the Transportation Security Administration needs to know the “identity” of the flying public), applies for a driver’s license, or attends a public school.
Perhaps the construction of such a genetic panopticon is wise. But I doubt that the proud men who wrote the charter of our liberties would have been so eager to open their mouths for royal inspection.
UPDATE (6/8/2013) Seems like there may be a little more to this story than initially reported by the media.