Saturday, August 18, 2007

Red Light Cameras: Our [Lack of] Privacy Doesn't STOP There.


For those of you who regularly read my blog "rantings", you already know that my objection to automated red light cameras and photo speed cameras is on several fronts—most notably on unconstitutional due process grounds.

The erosion of our civil liberties can also be voluntary (in fact, it never ceases to amaze me how many citizens are willing to give up our hard fought [for] freedoms).

This just happened to me:

I received an unsolicited incoming phone call to our home early this Saturday morning (even though we are on DNC lists) from someone asking to speak to my wife (by using my wife's first name).

At first, it sounded as though she had known Lisa personally, so I continued the conversation only to find that when I informed the caller that my wife wasn't home at the moment, I was asked to identify myself. Without giving confirmation as to whom I was, the woman on the other end proceeded to tell me about some statistics of the Veteran's Association and proceeded to casually inform me that our conversation was being recorded!

Once I learned of this, I politely terminated the phone call (although I was thinking of a number of expletives that I won't write here). Looking at our caller-id history, I found that the number was blocked and not indicated (they were protecting their true identity/privacy!)

In a day where our fourth amendment rights are being eroded in the name of security (who's security, I am not so sure any more) I find the nature of today's phone call particularly disturbing.

While we have all been conditioned over the years to not give a second thought to the fact that most of our customer service related outbound calls we make to some company are automatically recorded (for "quality assurance purposes") this is the first such call I have ever received (that I am aware of) where the caller was recording the call (and without my consent).

More than thirty years ago I got a very brief "glimpse" of the potential technical capabilities of our National Security Agency (NSA) and it was "impressive," to say the least. If that was then, the possibilities today (with all of our new technology) must be beyond most individuals' imagination.

Relating back to my phone call this morning, would it be possible to have a "campaign" in which every household (or telephone number) in this country has a recorded voice profile which could be extrapolated (by computer) to build a complete online vocabulary profile which could then be compared against every monitored phone call—the end product being not only flagged phone calls but a probability score of the actual individuals who were involved in the conversation, automatically across millions of phone calls daily?

How's that for warrantless wiretapping surveillance efficiency? A little far fetched? Maybe. But the technology is certainly there.

While I generally support the efforts of the good men and women who are tasked with protecting our great country from future attack—an extremely daunting task, to be sure—I am cognizant of the ongoing integrity of our Constitution and our Bill of Rights, as well.

If, like me, you are alarmed and concerned about the general erosion of our rights to privacy whether by our government or private industry, the time is now to get involved and make your voice heard.

I know it takes time, but we each should know our local, state, federal representatives, their telephone numbers and mailing addresses. We each should take the time to express our respective concerns (in written form) about the current state of our civil liberties and pressure our elected representatives to take corrective action or be faced with eminent job removal (remember, we are coming into an election year).

This battle can only be won in numbers...

And, you can bet, I am going to find out who actually initiated this call.

Remember: sometimes the cure is worse than the disease.

Veil Guy

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