Sunday, October 23, 2005
Reported in an article in the NYTimes, the FBI is asking all US universities to reengineer their internet access so that tapping into the communications of suspected criminals and terrorists is automatic. The Universities estimate that this upgrade will cost about seven billion dollars. That is billion with a "b". Apparently last year the FBI only asked 12 times to tap into a computer network. 12 times. So, if they need next year to tap into a computer network 14 times, then each of those cases would cost roughly $500 million. I wonder how many criminal acts are worth $500 million. Of course, the FBI can say that writing on the wall suggests that in the future computer technology will be utilized more for communications, but then why are they mandating the upgrade by 2007? How about giving the universities enough time that they can fold the surveillance upgrade into their normal upgrade cycles. I guess the other thing that I am sort of troubled with is this: if it becomes significantly cheaper and easier for government agencies to monitor us, then will they cross the lines and begin to monitor the citizenry in inappropriate ways? Such as Hoover did in the 50s and 60s. Or the CIA did in opening all mail destined for Russia during the cold war. Sometimes not have the ability to do something is the only thing stopping some people.