The news can be a scary thing.
Take, for instance this report from Sunday, which noted the growing popularity of unmanned (drone) aircraft designed to give a birds-eye view of the ground. Widely used by the military to monitor the ground movements of foreign and terrorist troops, these spy planes and helicopters are gaining use in the states by both government and private corporations.
I’m actually less concerned about businesses using these little tech toys than I am about what the state may do with them.
I read a story the other day that noted that citizens of London are caught on a security camera hundreds of times per day on average. While London is widely known to be the most spied-on city in the world, what’s to say that New York, DC, and even Buffalo isn’t next?
After all, we also found out last week the the New York (City) Police Department had made a habit of infiltrating college campuses in order to watch the activities of Muslim groups. They even came all the way to the University at Buffalo to see what we had going on in our neck of the woods. If the NYPD can spy on us in Buffalo, there’s not much to prevent the feds from doing the same, is there?
Of course, we already have traffic light cameras. Despite the protests of several citizens groups and the NYCLU, these little snap shooters have been quietly installed around Western New York under the guise of “keeping us safe.”
Tell that to London. According to a recent report, there's been little or no change in London's crime rates since all those closed-circuit cameras were more widely installed in the mid 1980s. In nearly 30 years, despite having 51,000 spy cameras strategically located around the city, crime rates are about the same.
If only they had every criminal’s DNA, like Gov. Andrew Cuomo is asking for.
The governor is seeking an “expansion” of the “database” of criminals’ DNA. This was the way the governor’s office worded it. And nearly every news agency in New York State reported it as such using the phrase “database expansion.”
Google the phrase “database expansion” and you’ll get hundreds of hits — all related to this story.
When you think of “database expansion,” though, do you think of the compelled (forced) plundering of the biogenetic makeup of our fellow citizens? Or does it sound the fresh new catchphrase at an accounting firm?
It’s already the case that anyone who is found guilty of a felony has to surrender a DNA sample. This “expansion” would include all misdemeanors. Any conviction. Period.
Law enforcement has come out in support of this, understandably so. But I’ve been amazed at the lack of opposition to this plan. The idea of the state owning a piece of what it is that makes me “me” is downright frightening. I’d like to be self-owned, thank you very much.
When the state can track our every movement and literally owns a piece of us, what does that make us? Property? Pets?
Of course, they’re doing so under the guise of “keeping us safe.”
Maybe we should just be grateful to have an “older sibling” who is so concerned about our safety.