Monday, June 12, 2006

The National Surveillance State Goes Local


In my previous post on the National Surveillance State, I pointed out that although the federal government is defending its domestic surveillance and datamining operations to discover threats to national security, there is no reason why the same procedures and technologies couldn't be harnessed to aid in everyday domestic criminal law enforcement. Indeed, once the tools are available, not only federal law enforcement officials, but also state and local officials, will want to use them for everyday law enforcement problems. So domestic electronic surveillance and data mining will not be limited to the most urgent threats to national security. Rather, they may be become part of the everyday operations of state and local law enforcement, if legislatures permit and fund these operations.

Today's Boston Globe includes a story describing how Rhode Island officials are seeking some of the same tools that the feds have-- to combat not terrorism but domestic Internet crime:

The Rhode Island General Assembly is considering legislation that could give police access to Internet and phone records and credit card and bank information without a warrant or other court review, civil libertarians said.

The state police said the legislation would help track down the increasing instances of Internet-based crime, including fraud and child exploitation. They say they are only seeking expanded access to Internet records, not phone or banking records.

But lawyers familiar with this area of law say the bills as crafted would give Rhode island police the right to obtain the same information that some of the nation's major communication companies have been accused of giving to the National Security Agency illegally.
. . . .

State police say going before a judge to get a warrant can be time-consuming and cumbersome.

Cpl. John Killian, the state police's computer crime specialist, said it can take three to four hours of work to obtain a warrant.

"There's a balance between privacy and police authority," Killian said. "The current situation is weighted too far on the side of privacy."


And so it begins. In time, police authority will reign supreme.

For our own good, of course.

All God does is watch us and kill us when we get boring. We must never, ever be boring.
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