Satellite tracking, electronic taps create Orwellian possibilities

Cyprus Semi CEO TJ Rodgers: I'd rather live under threat of terror attack than certainty of Patriot Act.
Written by ZDNet UK, Contributor

Cyprus Seminconductor CEO T.J. Rodgers, usually described as "outspoken," nails it  when he describes how unfettered government plus technology is creating truly Orwellian implications. Technology is a twin-edged sword and the US and Britain are embracing the cutting edge in a mad dash for 1984. It's not technology but legal limitations with enforcement teeth that will preserve what's left of civil liberties.

Writing in the San Jose Mercury News, Rodgers notes that new spying applications are being implemented at an alarming rate, from tracking dementia patents and pedophiles in Britain to American spying on political groups like PETA that law enforcement dubs terrorist. Britain now installs GPS units in all new cars, which can be monitored by the security division of Britain's motor vehicles agency.

As Rodgers points out, technology is not your friend here:

With only the need to combine two real-world technologies for spying and tracking, the vision of 1984 -- once just a dark philosophical concept -- becomes an engineering project.

The president and those to whom he delegates his authority can now authorize government spooks to listen to us in our homes and on our cell phones. When we are not home, they can track us in our automobiles. The system could be airtight and could be used to control our actions.

It's simple enough for most Silicon Valley companies to create a chip to detect a valid GPS signal and disable an automobile's ignition system to prevent citizens from the ``unauthorized use'' of their own vehicles.

It's up to people and their elected representatives to draw this latter-day Hoover/McCarthyism to a halt, Rodgers concludes:


"The final move into the totality of 1984 requires only a bit of philosophical drift, as exemplified by J. Edgar Hoover's directive to spy on the Rev. Martin Luther King because he was a subversive. If Bush's latest acts are left unchallenged, the government will become bolder at spying on whomever it wants and secretly jailing those it deems a threat to national security -- all with no troublesome warrants or messy public trials."

"I would much rather live as a free man under the highly improbable threat of another significant Al-Qaeda attack than I would as a serf, spied on by an oppressive government that can jail me secretly, without charges. If the Patriot Act defines the term ``patriot,'' then I am certainly not one.

By far, our own government is a bigger threat to our freedom than any possible menace posed by Al-Qaida."


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