Techdirt Podcast Episode 55: How Much Surveillance Is Acceptable?

from the where's-the-line dept

Welcome to the last podcast episode of 2015! For the whole year (and since long before that) Techdirt has been speaking out against surveillance and government invasion of privacy, to the point where it might seem like we give no consideration to the legitimacy of any kind of surveillance. But that’s not necessarily true, so this week we’re approaching things from the other side and discussing the limits of reasonable and acceptable surveillance.

Follow the Techdirt Podcast on Soundcloud, subscribe via iTunes, or grab the RSS feed. You can also keep up with all the latest episodes right here on Techdirt.

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Comments on “Techdirt Podcast Episode 55: How Much Surveillance Is Acceptable?”

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Anonymous Coward says:

“…reasonable and acceptable surveillance.”

NO Leigh, there is no reasonable and acceptable level of surveillance when it comes to the federal government. Why? There hasn’t been a single inch – not one – given to them by the populace in which they didn’t also take a mile, and then some. Always with the incrementalism, hacking away one piece at a time until they have it all. Knowing better, it is not wise to give them ANY leeway – none whatsoever.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Always with the incrementalism, hacking away one piece at a time until they have it all. Knowing better, it is not wise to give them ANY leeway – none whatsoever.

Just to follow up on Leigh’s point: are you advocating we do away with the 4th Amendment’s warrant requirement entirely?

Do you think it should be illegal for police to follow a suspect?

Just trying to understand your answer here.

Seegras (profile) says:

How much slavery is acceptable?

I mean it’s an interesting question, insofar as there are actually law-enforcement procedures that rob people of their freedom and make them work.

However, what happens if that “slavery” suddenly isn’t applied to convicted people, but against anybody, or even everybody?

This is a very similar situation as we have with surveillance. not only that it robs people of their freedom, but it’s also one of those things that only law-enforcement used to be allowed to do, and only on probably cause with a judge signing off, but now, apparently, some people think it’s a somehow ok to enslave the whole world. Pardon, put the whole world under surveillance; as if there is a difference…

Anonymous Coward says:

only equal amounts of surveillance no more of those passing the laws exempting themselves from having it applied to them or their friends.

If it is good enough for the public then it’s good enough for the politicians and police and anyone else that has exempted themselves.

They are unlikely to support such laws if they find themselves under the scrutiny of the public

GEMont (profile) says:

Re: Re:

If it is good enough for the public then it’s good enough for the politicians and police and anyone else that has exempted themselves.

Its always interesting to see how consistently this particular point of view is so resoundingly ignored by all.

Almost as if “we” assume in advance that our “superiors”, are indeed our superiors, and thus should be exempt from the surveillance that has become the every day norm for the rest of us, because they are above reproach and incorruptible – even though reality has proven otherwise on a daily basis for centuries.

Aye – the worship of the wealthy has indeed led us to a conundrum of vast proportions, from which there appears no possible succor, and this “modern” society is very likely to follow, precisely, in a timely fashion, the footsteps of all of its predecessors.

Leigh Beadon (profile) says:

Re: Total Surveillance Under the Guise of Safety

Zero surveillance is acceptable.

So, to clarify: would you argue that police shouldn’t be able to follow a suspect, even with a warrant? Or stake out a location where they anticipate a suspected drug dealer will complete a transaction?

Should federal law enforcement be able to get a warrant to access the phone records of a corporation they suspect is breaking the law? Or a warrant to monitor the financial activity of a politician they suspect is taking bribes?

GEMont (profile) says:

Re: Re: Total Surveillance Under the Guise of Safety

RE: “Zero surveillance is acceptable.”

I suspect that those who claim that they deem zero surveillance to be desirable, are referring to the blanket “haystack” surveillance of those “not suspected of a crime”, rather than that which is used in the pursuit of justice and usually referred to as “investigation”.

It is the blanket surveillance of all communications and movements of all “non-suspect citizens”, by those who are officially exempt from similar scrutiny through legal institutionalized secrecy, for purposes completely outside of the pursuit of justice, that causes many to perceive all secret spying on the public as the tool of corrupt government and thus a crime against the public that needs to end.

But you probably already knew that. 🙂

Leigh Beadon (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I’ve noticed an increasing number of extremist opinions on Techdirt lately.

What troubles me most is they don’t seem to realize their opinions are extreme. Only in a fantasy land is “zero surveillance of any kind, end of discussion” a moderate position, much less the obvious position they pretend it is.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

We always wondered who the arbiter of fantasy land was. Now we know it’s you.

You revealed earlier your awareness of LEO monitoring social media (like this forum). Given that fact, one can’t help but wonder why you’re trying so hard to publicly label those who disagree with your position “extremists”.

Trying to get them swatted?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“Possible JTRIG infiltration?”

It’s rather hilarious that anyone would consider a singular article on a relatively tiny niche e-zine like TechDirt would sway public opinion so greatly so as to require “JTRIG infiltration”. Oh… . . my sides.

People do not like to be spied upon. That’s not an “extremist position” – it’s common sense.

That One Guy (profile) says:

The government who cried 'Terrorist!'

Yeah, unfortunately the government and police rather poisoned the well of public perception towards any surveillance thanks to their actions. They’ve shown that they absolutely cannot be trusted to act in a measured and restrained manner, so the response from some is that they shouldn’t be allowed to have any surveillance capabilities, even less intrusive ones, for fear that they’ll just abuse those abilities too.

While I think that goes too far myself, it’s not hard to understand why people would hold that stance.

@b (user link) says:

Above my pay grade

Re: extreme views expressed on public internet

How ironic that freely typed speech is so easily surveiled in the digital age. We’re reduced to meta arguments and sidetracked from the fact that we bicker like cavemen.

The story so far….
Public noobs until recently thought “online” was the wild west. Now they think they’re savvy coz they are sold on the idea that the State has killed their individual freedom of privacy by “illegal” spying (and secretly moving Laws to make State mass surveillance “legal” – though let’s be honest, such guesswork still largely untested by the courts since the details remain practically impenetrable by mere mortals).

Whatever next? Will a dumb comment on a forum fell enough would-be employees such that we might silence ourselves to keep ourselves employable, electable, dateable, respectable?

I think not. We are but talking apes. Only politicians play politics well. The rest are increasingly at their mercy. Text on a screen will always play antelope to the lions of local Legislation.


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