NSA Leaks Making Law Enforcement Officials More Wary Of Carelessly Deploying Surveillance Technology
from the should-have-been-this-cautious-all-along,-but-we'll-take-what-we-can-get dept
The trickle-down effect of the leaked NSA documents is starting to seep into smaller entities at local levels. The outrage that has greeted these revelations now has law enforcement entities concerned about public reaction to their own surveillance programs. Reuters reports that speakers at the International Association of Chiefs of Police conference are striking a very cautionary tone about the deployment of surveillance technology.
"The scrutiny that the NSA has come under filters down to us," [Georgia Bureau of Investigation Director Vernon] Keenan said at the annual gathering that draws top law enforcement from the United States and elsewhere with workshops, product exhibits and conferences.Additional care in the future would be nice, considering many law enforcement entities, from local police departments to the FBI, have deployed surveillance programs and data collection technology with minimal oversight and few, if any, guidelines for use. Periods for public comment seem to be an afterthought, something usually considered only after the public has raised objections to already-deployed programs.
For many new technologies, there is no clear legal standard to govern their use, he said.
"If we are not very careful, law enforcement is going to lose the use of technology," he said.
What should have been the approach taken in the past looks to be the route law enforcement will have to take in the future, according to Philadelphia Police Chief Charles Ramsey.
"Imagine instead of driving down the street scanning license tags, driving down the street checking the faces of individuals walking down the street," Ramsey said.Both FBI Director James Comey and US Attorney General Eric Holder are scheduled to speak at the conference. We'll see if this tone changes after these two handle the mic. The FBI's track record on deploying privacy-invading technology with no rules or regulations has been particularly atrocious, with some of its actions skirting legality altogether. The FBI should be leading by example but, like the NSA and its defenders, it seems to be more concerned with finding new and creative justifications for its invasive surveillance programs (like the biometric database it's building) rather than moving forward with more caution and respect for American civil liberties.
"We have to remind ourselves - just because we can do something doesn't mean we should do it."
As for the law enforcement officials quoted, it's a shame that it takes a consistent barrage of leaked intelligence documents to make them realize that just because you can do something, doesn't mean you should do it.