December 6th, 2006

Can You Hear Me Now?

This is ridiculous.

Ridiculous.

Yes, ridiculous.

The FBI appears to have begun using a novel form of electronic surveillance in criminal investigations: remotely activating a mobile phone’s microphone and using it to eavesdrop on nearby conversations.

Did I mention that this is ridiculous? Do we really trust our government that much? I hope the American populace isn’t that naïve. History is laden with examples of government using technology and “security” measures on their own people, whether by subtle disguise or not. But no, it couldn’t happen in America! And of course, we don’t hear about it in the news. We forget about such instances, moving on with our lives, worrying about that with preoccupies us each day. As Goethe said:

Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.

What matters to us? Are our lives so filled with trivial minutia that we disregard what really matters? Do we pay attention to the “big stuff”, or let it pass us by, knowing that others will concern themselves with such matters?

Are we willing to allow such a blatant invasion of privacy? Do we think that such law-enforced powers cannot and will not ever be abused or employed in circumstances that don’t warrant such action? I’ve quoted it many times on my blog, but Benjamin Franklin’s wise words deserve constant repetition:

Those who give up essential liberties for temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.

Americans are being asked to sacrifice more liberty and privacy in the name of new security measures aimed at deterring some unseen force. As a result, we have the Patriot Act and the Military Commissions Act, among a myriad of Executive Orders and other laws. Our privacy and freedoms seem to be withering away.

Fontor, your suggestion to move to Australia becomes more and more enticing each day. No lie.

6 Responses to “Can You Hear Me Now?”

  1. John Anderson
    December 6, 2006 at 11:02 am #

    What matters to us? Are our lives so filled with trivial minutia that we disregard what really matters? Do we pay attention to the “big stuff”, or let it pass us by, knowing that others will concern themselves with such matters?

    Well, I think our lives are so filled with trivial minutia that we really don’t care if the FBI intercepts my wife asking me to pick up some milk on the way home.

    I think some of the reason people get apathetic to privacy issues is that we don’t really care if the government listens, as most of us have nothing to hide.

    I think people need to realize the slippery slope that privacy invasion threatens, and the possibilities that open up once privacy is surrendered. Most will counter that they don’t mind because they have nothing to hide, but this premise assumes that the interrogator is benevolent, and isn’t hiding something himself. :)

  2. Connor
    December 6, 2006 at 11:16 am #

    Most will counter that they don’t mind because they have nothing to hide, but this premise assumes that the interrogator is benevolent, and isn’t hiding something himself.

    Well said, John! This is portrayed fairly well in the movie “Enemy of the State” (too bad Clean Flicks is out of business now… and I sold my edited copy). An innocent man was framed, pursued, bugged, harassed, chased, and charged with crimes he didn’t commit. The fact that we have nothing to hide doesn’t warrant surrendering our privacy and other liberties. That will only quickly lead to a totalitarian police state.

  3. Curtis
    December 6, 2006 at 1:49 pm #

    Did I read the article right? Did it say that the microphone can be used even when we aren’t talking on the phone? Does this mean we are walking around with a live bug?

  4. fontor
    December 6, 2006 at 5:02 pm #

    Hey, the beaches are great, and there’s semi-socialised medicine! You’d love it. You could even stay at my place! Just imagine the discussions.

    Australia has a fairly high rate of mobile phone acquisition, I’ve heard, but I don’t want one of the things myself. Even less now.

    This reminds me (again) how important it is that governments have rules they have to follow, and that they have to operate transparently and be held accountable. That’s probably the worst thing about BushCo. They’re the most shadowy cabal ever. I mean, you want to talk secret combinations. And that allows all kinds of abuses.

    Check this fictional story in Cosmos magazine for another innovative use for everyone’s mobile phones. Fun fun!

  5. bob
    December 6, 2006 at 6:05 pm #

    DOWN WITH BIG BROTHER!
    DOWN WITH BIG BROTHER!
    DOWN WITH BIG BROTHER!
    DOWN WITH BIG BROTHER!
    DOWN WITH BIG BROTHER!

  6. Naiah Earhart
    December 7, 2006 at 8:42 am #

    My husband has a book: “The Transparent Society” I think I’m going to get it on deck. Privacy versus security is pretty interesting.

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