Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Future of Ordering Pizza

Check out this recent clip from the ACLU. Perhaps a bit exaggerated, but still very interesting.

Found on Burger's Blog.


Nye! said...

I hate to inject politics into things like this, but I don't remember the ACLU complaining when Clinton used the ECHELON system to eavesdrop on phone calls at the Asian/Pacific Economic Conference in Seattle in 1993. One of the topics of the conference was a multi billion-dollar hydroelectric system in Vietnam. Clinton took the information he picked up at APEC and gave it to Democratic Party contributors competing for the contracts.

At least Bush is doing it outside the country and is doing it to research suspected and known terrorists, rather than funneling billions of dollars to his campaign contributors.

Kat said...

In all honesty, nye!, I had not read anything on the site but had simply watched the movie. I saw it more as a statement about the kind of knowledge that technology makes available about individuals (although exaggerated, of course) rather than the political statement it is (perhaps not really wise since it is from the ACLU).

I worry/wonder about things like places requiring biometric scans (usually thumbprints) for services. I've heard of a tanning salon doing this for tanning beds, as well as a small public library requiring it of their employees. It seems to me that technology is making a lot of information available about individuals that could be misused and turned into a "Big Brother" type situation. You can change your SSN if need be (although I'm sure it's quite a hassle), but you really can't change your thumbprint...

Also, while I will say I did not put the movie on my blog for political reasons, I have to add that as far as the Bush administration goes, he may be doing it outside the country but he is doing it inside as well. This story has been all over the blogosphere: "DHS visits student over Little Red Book". Of course, the veracity of this story has been called into question because of a second story elsewhere but I do believe that there is truth in it.

As for the Clinton thing, I can't comment on that because when he was in office I did not pay any attention whatsoever to politics (not because of Clinton but rather because I just disliked politics and preferred to be an ignorant American - something I am trying to change), so I would not know if the ACLU complained or not.

Nye! said...

I didn't mean to imply that you were making a political statement, only that the ACLU was. And I'm not a big fan of the ACLU -- this is probably my favorite ACLU story.

I also think there's a big difference between monitoring library records (whether or not that particular story is true, the government does have authority to do that) and eavesdropping on phone calls. While I think that both of us would agree that what books you're requesting from the library are no one else's business, it seems pretty clear as a matter of law that the government does have the authority to check up on that. The phone calls are different -- the ACLU ad implies that when I make a call to you there is a danger of someone listening in, and that's not the case. Only international calls involving are eligible to be monitored, and only those involving parties on this known/suspected terrorist list. Of course, how you get on that list is a whole different can of worms, but the fact of the matter is that the ACLU is intentionally putting out a deceptive ad. And that ticks me off.

Kat said...

The Onion does have some pretty funny satirical pieces and that one about the ACLU is no exception. :)

The government does have the right to monitor library records. However, it's a right given to them by the Patriot Act, which is very controversial and highly disliked in the library world (and I'm sure other places as well, I just tend to hear about it all the time in the library literature I read). I suppose they also have the right to library records in normal circumstances if they obtain a warrant but the Patriot Act makes the warrant unnecessary. The Chairman Mao book story of course makes no mention of a warrant one way or the other, so we have no way of knowing if one was obtained.

To quote the ACLU website, of the two things this video speaks against, I pay far more attention to the "invasive new technologies" aspect than I do to "The Bush Administration's policies". You are forcing me to pay attention to the latter as well, which is a good thing. :) And of course I don't know anything about this supposed database (or the legislation that would make it possible) so perhaps I should read up on that at some point (and not on the ACLU's website).

The ACLU is concerned about the creation of a database of personal information that would make the situation in the video possible. I don't really see it as someone is listening in to/eavesdropping on phone conversations, but rather that a database could be created that would make personal information available (regardless of whether or not it was used during a phone call). So I guess I don't really see the "intentionally deceptive" aspect of listening in on phone conversations that you do.

I do, however, agree that that situation in the video is very much blown out of proportion and taken to the extreme. But then again, that's hype and propaganda for you.

Anonymous said...

Hey Kat! Catching up on reading your blog. It's not listed as a "Favorites" on my parents' computer like on mine, so I actually - *gasp* - had to search for it!

Concerning the monitoring of phone calls, it may perhaps be correct that the intrusion upon liberties is not that drastic. The problem still remains that the President cannot act without designated authority.

That authority can come from only two sources: legislation passed by Congress or the Constitution. I haven't been following the story too seriously recently (holiday cheer and all that), but I recall the Bush adminsitration making two arguments. The first I think was that the authority was conferred implicitly by the Patriot Act, but that argument seems to have been shot down as pretty silly. The second is that this is somehow a Presidential power implicit in the Constitution. Since the Constitution is fuzzy on pretty much everything, this might be possible, but the general consensus seems to be that it's very unlikely.

Anyway, bottom line, no matter how reasonable Bush's authorization the monitoring were, he can't act without authority. That's the real issue: unauthorized expansion of Presidential power.

[Oh, and due to the archaically slow dial-up connection, I didn't even try to actually view the video! Wish I could, but I feel the attempt would be futile.]

Liz said...

Uh, yeah, that ws me.