Read the rest here.
The pieces come together. Within the last week I have read:
1) New software, associated with Google, will recognize customers in stores so as to offer them discounts; having your photos uploaded to allow this service will (for now) be voluntary.
2) A new surveillance system in New York will store footage from cameras in, for example, the subway, so that when an unattended package is discovered, the police can look back in time to see who left it.
3) TSA is perfecting a laser that will allow detection on travelers of trace amounts of drugs, explosives, and doubtless a wide variety of other things.
4) The government is moving toward mandating black boxes on cars to record information thought to be useful in ascribing blame in crashes.
5) Various police departments are beginning to use “drone” aircraft to monitor the population.
These are recent pieces of the coming world. They have not yet all been completely deployed and linked. Some are voluntary, for the moment. Others are in development. All are coming.
Add the now-routine tracking of passports, cameras that read every passing license plate and record the time, NSA’s automated monitoring of email, Google’s and therefore the government’s knowledge of your searches, GPS tracking of cell phones, detailed records of bank transactions, and so on. Not all of these are instantly accessible by the police. They can easily be made accessible, and they move in that direction.
In short, the technology exists for a detailed, unblinking, unforgetting watchfulness of the entire population beyond anything imagined, or perhaps imaginable, a few decades ago. This is not Fred-drank-too-much-coffee. It is happening.
The capacity of hard drives is now essentially without limit, the power of computers to sort and search infinite, and the speed of the Internet no longer a bound. Almost microscopic cameras, wireless concealable microphones, face recognition, voice recognition, recording GPs: You can buy all of this in consumer stores. The government has far better.
People speak of the onrush of the police state. I think that many do not understand how fast it comes, or how thorough it will be.
The political framework falls rapidly into place. Few or no safeguards exist, and probably few are possible. A growing authoritarianism rapidly erodes what protections we had. The courts allow random searches of passengers of trains and subways without probable cause. Warrantless tapping of personal communications is rampant, or done with secret warrants from a secret federal judge. TSA has Viper squads that stop cars at random for searches. In many places it is against the law to video the police, who everywhere become more militarized and less accountable. For practical purposes, citizens have no recourse.
At a higher level of generality, America is no longer a democracy. If you think this a rash assertion, ask yourself whether you have the slightest influence over policies that matter to you. Suppose that you want to end the wars, shrink the military, end affirmative action, genuinely change education, or reform a hostile and unworkable bureaucracy. Who do you vote for? Important policies are made in faceless bureaucracies immune to public influence. National politics employs a sort of political price-fixing, in which you are permitted to choose among a number on indistinguishable candidates and told that you are having an election.
None of this is going to stop.
Why is it happening? Some suspect a vast conspiracy to Sovietize the country. I doubt it. Don’t look for a conspiracy when human nature is an adequate explanation. Presidents never want to suffer the restraints on constitutionality, the agonizing slowness of a congress that often has little understanding of the issues; if presidents can do things by fiat, or secretly, they will.
We have now had two consecutive presidents with less than normal respect for the constitution, one a brown Plantagenet but with little grounding in European civilization, the other a privileged rich brat of limited intellect and schooling. Such as they will take any shortcut they can get away with, and there is no longer anyone to tell them no.
Monday, August 20, 2012
Understanding the Developing Police State
There are junior conspiracies but also there is just human desire for power. Because there is no head of the conspiracy, whose head might be cut off, but many power centers within governmnet the power of government grows and grows. Fred Reed gets it: