New surveillance technologies increasingly threaten Americans' civil liberties yet the public seems not to mind the ominous signs of an emerging police state, a law school professor warns.
"If we acquiesce in technology's wonders being utilized to track our every movement, every action, every purchase, every message---because there is benefit to us, as there is, in each of these---who is to blame when the state goes knocking on the neighbor's door?" asks Larry Starkey, an adjunct professor at the Massachusetts School of Law at Andover. "Who is to blame when the state comes knocking on our own doors?"
Technology, Starkey writes, "is giving the cops amazing reach." The individual is monitored by security video cameras covering the street and inside office buildings and stores; by credit cards that "record considerably more than mere debt obligations" and that list the place and times of all purchases; and by purchases made on "special member cards" that track "every item you buy, establishing a data base in your name, and drawing regular conclusions about your eating, partying, reading, junk-binging, and self-medicating habits." Also, Starkey says, "Your video store is doing the same. And so is your pay-per-view provider."