New Hampshire, which, of course, has a strong history of independence and protection of civil liberties, has passed a statute prohibiting this type of mass surveillance technology deployment.
There are steps that people can take at BigBrotherAmerica.org. They can send letters to the Representatives in Congress and demand federal oversight hearings to force disclosure from the executive branch agencies, from the FBI, from the DEA, from ICE, of basic information, like just how big is this network? Have the officials come forward to testify under oath what data they are accumulating, how long they are storing it. What are the restrictions on use so that there is disclosure, and with disclosure of course comes logical restriction.
We can also use this same process locally to say, you should enact a law, or that it, in fact, is the law, as it very well may be that it’s unlawful to implement, to roll out mass surveillance technology without there being public notice debate disclosure so that people locally can make a decision about just how they want their county or their city to be. This is life-altering technology. And, of course, as part of our campaign, we provide people with resources and tools, posters, we have graphics and compelling images that people can use to create signs and posters.
And also with respect to the tag reader use, what we are doing is we’re asking people across the country to identify the locations of the tag readers in their jurisdiction, that they may know of either by personal observation or by local news disclosures, and to submit that information to what is a clearinghouse here at the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, and we have a growing national map, an interactive map of tag reader locations across the country. And people already, since the launch of the campaign a couple weeks ago, have begun to send us additional information about even small localities that we were unaware were utilizing it.
TG: Do you have anything that you wanted to add that we didn’t discuss?
CM: I would say that on a meta level, what the government counts on is this perception of inevitability, that somehow advances in technology inevitably mean the loss of privacy, and that simply is not the reality. Advances in technology can be incredibly useful. We all benefit from advances and technology, and yes, advances in technologies are inevitable. That is what happens. But the application of technology does not necessarily need to be intrusive. We control technology, we as human beings create technology. There is nothing about technology that makes it an independent breathing being. It is simply a tool and society determines what are the appropriate uses and limitations on use.
So part of the public education campaign is for people to come to understand that not only do we control the technology, but we have the right to restrict it. That’s what happened with the eavesdropping technology, for example, and wire-tapping technology when it became evident that that technology had developed, then people took actions to restrict its uses. And here we’re at the cusp. We’re really at a turning point. We’re at a turning point because the technology has advanced so radically and rapidly in the past number of decades that if we don’t take action to make the baseline that that mass surveillance technology is something that is allowed to be used only with the consent of the public, if ever.
That’s the baseline. That’s what people should understand, that’s what legislators should understand, and they should put in policies, practices and procedures that reflect that, that say it is prohibited to implement any mass surveillance technology until we have oversight hearings, until there is a public discussion and debate, and an informed citizenry can weigh in and say, you know, that’s just not right. That changes the way our culture is and we reject it.