Legislators Have Too Many Control Issues

The trend to more invasive surveillance and control by North American governments (indeed, by many countries that we consider civilized democracies), or their granting of too much control to others is disturbing. Too many things are making creeping (and sometimes creepy) inroads into privacy rights, along with the usual specious “if you’ve got nothing to hide… ” argument. Too many things are tending towards shoot first, ask questions later. And governments are too eager to look to ISP’s and others who run the internet pipes to control what flows through.

Some examples:

The proposed US SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) that is being loudly opposed. It has been characterised as net censorship, an attempt to regulate the internet, and breaking the internet as we know it. It could result in entire web sites being taken down based merely on an allegation that one post or comment infringes copyright.

The proposed Canadian Lawful Access legislation that would allow much more invasive internet information to be given to authorities without warrants. This resulted in a lengthy letter by the Privacy Commissioner to the Ministers responsible.

The increasing use of license plate cameras by police, such as in the Washington DC area. In its simplest, most privacy friendly form, car mounted or fixed cameras read car license plates and flag any that are contained in a database of stolen or suspect vehicles. No record is kept of any plates other than those of interest. But it has come to light that some of the systems store the details of every single plate that they capture, and retain that for long periods of time.


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