What Scares me Most about Warrantless Tapsby Colin Berkshire in Telecom
Wiretapping has been in the news a lot. I think we all accept that the truth is that all of our calls, all of our text messages, and probably all of our emails are recorded and kept…by somebody.
I lead a pretty clean life, so in theory I don’t have much to worry about.
Our political leaders lead a less clean life than me, and I have no doubt that many of them are being blackmailed J. Edgar Hoover style by the NSA or whomever holds the data over them. But that isn’t what scares me most.
What bothers me is that once society accepts that everything is logged and recorded, and accepts that we have all of this data on everybody it actually becomes easier to have a tyranny. This is counter-intuitive, so hear me out for a moment.
Let’s say somebody in a position of power wants something from a person like myself. They go to their NSA blackmail database and are disappointed to find very little of interest, aside from the fact that I have given a few petty bribes to cops in Vietnam as I motorcycled across the country.
So what they do is just plain-out fabricate some dirt. They create a long-lost mistress, or some wire transfers, or whatever is the blackmail data d’jour. Now, they very likely can go into any courtroom and get a conviction based upon this faked stuff.
Who can possibly challenge the integrity of captured data? Nobody can, because the systems and process is secret. Its just possible to dump a bunch of not-real data into the system and voilà: we have a criminal. The data becomes irrefutable.
This potential abuse is what scares me most.
The average guy probably needn’t worry because they aren’t useful to the government. But if you get into a position of being useful you run the rick of being “involuntarily recruited.”
So as you think about warrants wiretapping, perhaps the problem with it isn’t so much that our lives are in a fishbowl so much as that it easily allows political blackmail by becoming a vehicle for faked data to be created. It’s kinda like the digital version of a cop planting drugs on somebody they want. (Not that such a thing has ever happened.)