I once heard someone say “May you live in interesting times” is an old Chinese curse.
The times we live in are anything but boring. In America most of us travel with cell phones many of which are mini computers in their own right. Communication with one another is as easy as typing with your thumbs. We can navigate in strange places using our phones and have a wealth of information at our fingertips and even watch movies that we have recorded at home or downloaded from the internet. The possibilities seem unlimited yet have we really considered the cost of this technology. Not only has our access to technology grown but so has that of our government. We live in an age where access to our personal lives has never been so vulnerable to invasion. Our cell phone calls and e-mail are readily available to eavesdropping by local police and Federal investigators for almost any reason at all.
An online article at MSNBC.msn.com by Bob Sullivan on 7/6/12 describes an investigation by the American Civil Liberties Union into local police using cell phone locations to track subjects. Generally subpoenas were all that was required for the police to get that information and it can be used to track our movements for months past. The 1986 Electronics Communication Privacy Act sets guidelines for police that any information stored externally for more than 6 months is open for review such as G-Mail and any other cloud server email. Although the government is silent on these issues and ignoring Freedom of Information requests about what its intentions are, they are not denying any of this either. While all this is going on the U.S government is jumping headlong into this technological windfall with its massive new “Utah Data Center” which Wired Magazine claimed is capable of monitoring every email and text message sent around the world. Not only does the government want access to the most private parts of our lives, “the relationships we have with one another” but they want to watch us as well. They are setting the stage to have surveillance drones such as the Global Hawk and the Predator Drones flying our skies in the near future. Flying Magazine revealed new FAA regulations are in the works to allow unmanned aircraft over the United States and testing software designed to keep them out of conflict with general aviation.
With our lives so much in the looking-glass I believe it is time for us to set some boundaries on how and when such information can be used against us. We now live in an age where our lives are an open book, no knock warrants are common and our President declared in his election campaign that he wanted a Federal police force as big and powerful as our military. I believe freedom as we know it is in peril. If we don’t set boundaries on this surveillance and describe in detail what our freedoms are, we are in danger of losing them. Many of the freedoms we believe we have are not defined in the Constitution of the United States. The Declaration of Independence declares some of these as life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. While we still have these rights to some degree our government is eroding these freedoms all the time with laws telling us what kind of appliances we can buy, what type of toilet or light bulb we have to install and what size soft drink we can purchase. Now we are even required to purchase health insurance even if we feel we don’t want it or need it. There seems to be no end to how much control the government wants over our lives. I believe if we do not secure the right to make decisions about our own personal health and safety our freedom is lost. Already our government wants a say in the medical decisions we make for ourselves, our children and family and have stepped in when they disagreed. How long will it be after they win the war against marijuana when alcohol and tobacco become their targets and who is next, the obese? Maybe Orsom Wells was not that far off. Interesting times indeed.