If you suspect your neighbors are cooking up meth or fertilizer bombs in their basement — or maybe you just want those damn kids to get off your lawn — “help” from the government is as close as your iPhone:
The PatriotApp links your phone to American security and law enforcement agencies via the Internet and allows you to report anything you want at the touch of a button.
By simply pressing the relevant icon, users can sound the alarm for terrorism, ‘suspicious activity’, a health pandemic or an environmental safety issue.
The $0.99 app, named after the controversial Patriot Act brought in by the U.S. government after 9/11, is designed to ‘encourage active citizen participation in the War on Terror and in protecting their families and surrounding communities’, its makers Citizen Concepts claim.
Not a lot of imagination is needed to come up with all sorts of scenarios for abuse of this app, although creator Charles Reinighaus “truly believes that 99.9 percent of people are good and will not misuse the technology”.
It is truly a wondrous society we live in, that the state need not lift a finger to create a surveillance network, when its own citizens will happily provide one. Even the Soviets and East Germans weren’t so lucky.
What you say!!!1
There has been a lot wailing and gnashing of teeth recently over a joint announcement by Google and Verizon of a legislative-framework proposal they’ve been working on.
Now, I’ve seen this variously referred to as a backroom deal or pact, a secret treaty, or a set of regulations Google and Verizon are imposing on the internet. The FCC is shamefully abdicating its responsibility to regulate the internet! Nevermind that the D.C. Circuit court determined recently in the Comcast case that the FCC has no such regulatory authority over broadband internet; hence, the calls to disastrously reclassify broadband internet access in order to place it under the same regulatory rules as regular telephone service. Some are even intimating that Google and Verizon are trying to “own” the internet. Net neutrality activists are up in arms about this proposal, viciously attacking Google for selling out and reversing its longstanding defense of net neutrality, and calling for people to stage a silly boycott of Google products and services. If you don’t join the herd, you get labeled a Google-Verizon apologist or it is insinuated that you are on their payroll (see comments on the CNET articles linked below, for example).
So what should libertarians make of all this?
The Departments of Defense and Homeland Security among other groups are pressuring the Federal Aviation Administration to permit drones in US airspace. The Jonas Brothers better watch their backs.