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  > That this was done with a GPS device as opposed to
  > being tailed by people doesn't strike me as a big
  > difference
It's easier to do at scale.

What's the difference between having a cop watch a street corner vs installing a security camera? You can install a lot of security cameras for the same cost as hiring a police officer or FBI agent.

It's the same case here. They can track a lot more people via GPS devices when they don't have to pay for agents (agent salaries + car + gas) to tail someone.

I mean, at ~$400 a pop, how many GPS devices can you get for the cost of a single agent? And a list of GPS coordinates is something that can easily be processed automatically to look for patterns.




This is the key to the whole thing, and very much like what we observe with startups and disruption. Say you make something cheaper, and you increase demand. It gets cheaper, cheaper, and then suddenly it breaks into an entirely new market and demand goes through the roof. People invent new uses for it.

Surveillance is like that. It’s more than just being cheaper than having an officer follow a suspect around. It has become so cheap that agencies can now (or will very soon) be able to simply follow everyone, everywhere, without the slightest need for justification. Collect all the data, store it away, and if you later suspect them of a crime, you can open up the archives and look at everywhere they have been and everything they have said in their entire lifetime.

By following everyone, everywhere, law enforcement can effectively go back in time. Joe Blough is a drug dealer? Interesting. Whose car has been on his street in the past five years? Who called him and who did he call? Who is on his Facebook or in his Google+ circles?

Look at that, he plays Settlers of Catan with Thomas Rapido. Pull up Tom's data. Interesting, he’s married but his car has spent a lot of time at stripper clubs. Bet his wife doesn’t know that, call him in and threaten to tell her if Tom doesn’t cooperate with us.


You bring up a lot of steps in the process, and you come to the punch line:

> Bet his wife doesn’t know that, call him in and threaten to tell her if Tom doesn’t cooperate with us.

Because, let's be honest, the "scale" argument is pretty well worn (and one I've yet to see argued well).

So, I'm going to assume this is where it breaks down. How this information can be used against you, even if you didn't do anything illegal. At least, that's the point you are trying to make. The important part isn't that this can't be done now, but the scale at which it can be done.

With this in mind, the problem isn't on the data retrieval side, but on the data retention rules, as well as the rules regarding how that data can be used.

More importantly, tracking is now cheaper, more efficient then before, more accurate, and less invasive.

You're scenario is fairly pointless. I can easily come up with arguments that make it a no brainer (Joe Blough is a murderer and Tom is covering for him).

So the question is, why are you so concerned with the capture of data when the negative you present isn't on the capture side?


It’s pretty simple, governments have a long and shameful history of abusing the authorities we the people give them, at ever scale from individual bad apples up to wrong decisions at the very top. The only think that has ever worked or appeared to work is to have checks and balances, such as requiring warrants.

However, the issue with these devices as I understand it is that the government’s position is, “We don’t need a check and balance, because we’re collecting information that doesn’t invade privacy.”

And my position is, if the information can be used to harm a citizen, then collecting and storing it should be subject to the check and balance of judicial oversight.

Capturing data on the off-chance that it might turn up something or be useful some day can be used harmfully, and therefore I want oversight before it is collected.


  > So the question is, why are you so concerned with the
  > capture of data when the negative you present isn't
  > on the capture side?
What's the point of splitting apart the capturing of the data and the storage of the data? Are you proposing that someone would build up all of this infrastructure and not store the data?

Here's a negative with the capture side though: it is another small step in the transfer of power from the hands of the people into the hands of the government.

1) Build a large infrastructure that allows you to view the activities of anyone, anywhere, but not anytime. You have to be viewing it in real-time, there is no storage mechanism.

2) Now that people are comfortable with cameras and listening devices everywhere, add a provision allowing storage with a 1 month time limit.

3) Now that people are comfortable with a 1 month time limit, increase it to 2 months.

...

n) Now increase it to n months.

Limit as n approaches infinity.

Note that every time some major terrorist event happens the politicians will add larger bumps (than the normal grind) to the retention limit.


> What's the point of splitting apart the capturing of the data and the storage of the data?

Because they are different. If the data is collected, but only kept for a period of time determined by some oversight committee, then where is the harm?

> it is another small step in the transfer of power from the hands of the people into the hands of the government.

So, you're arguing against even allowing warrants (which are handed out by the government)? Because if one branch can oversee warrants, they can also provide oversight on the other end as well.


I fail to see how the courts can oversee access to information that is stored on servers administered by law enforcement. With the number of things that go "missing" from evidence lockers, I'm not too hopeful.




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