It is sad to see it happening, but the United States of America is becoming increasingly Orwellian in its use of technology to invade our privacy. The implementation is slow, but it is happening. Day by day, more and more is technology being used to constrict our rights and restrict our civil liberties.
A prime example is Proposition 83 on this year’s ballot. It requires people who are convicted of a felony sex crime to wear a Global Positioning Satellite-based tracking system for the rest of their lives. The idea that technology like the GPS system is being subverted to track us citizens is mind-boggling. While technically feasible, it would take boatloads of money to implement and administrate. GPS is not cheap. The California Secretary of State, in his official analysis of the proposition states that it will cost the state of California tens of millions of dollars initially, and within 10 years cost hundreds of millions of dollars, with no end in sight.
Furthermore, we taxpayers are now going to have to pay to have some barely functional state employee, who probably could not even understand the technology to begin with, sit staring at a computer screen tracing the movements of little dots on the screen. By far the worst part of this system is the future implications. What if the state decided, in all its wisdom, that everyone who got arrested for felony assault had to wear a GPS tracking device for the rest of his or her life? What about drug users, hookers, car thieves, A.S., frat guys, Daily Nexus staffers? For all I know, I might as well consider myself a suspect, since any crime that I commit could one day be put on the GPS blacklist, and I would be forced to buy a GPS tracking device like all the perverts.
If the state really wanted to keep track of its citizens, it might as well invest in a system that would track our cell phones. For those who don’t know, several years ago, the federal government required cellular service providers to develop a system in which a user who called 911 could be located while on their phone. The majority of the providers decided to add GPS transponders to their devices. It would be quite easy for the state to start tracking every person who had a cell phone. Do you really want your tax dollars going toward such a monumental misuse of technology?
GPS was designed by the military to aid in navigation, and the feds decided that they might as well enable the taxpayers to take advantage of the system that they paid for. What many also do not realize is that the whole idea kind of goes to shit if the feds decide to turn the system off to prevent an enemy from using the system against us. Whoops, can’t track the pervs anymore! Oh no! Even worse, GPS works poorest in cities, due to the way that the large buildings in most major metropolitan areas block the satellite signal. And what will happen if the pervs leave the state? Say Joe Blow the Sex Fiend decides that once his parole is up, he is going to leave California for a place a little more hospitable to his ilk and moves to Canada? The system will be able to do a whole lot of nothing to deal with that. And who will prevent the felons from taking the thing off if they don’t want to wear it in the first place?
Technology like GPS is an excellent example of one the wonderful things that we human beings can create. Unfortunately, a device that many have fallen in love with as a method of efficiently getting to a destination is slowly being turned into a Gestapo-esque system of tracking anyone that the state deems necessary. Before we know it, anyone ticketed by the Isla Vista Foot Patrol will have to wear GPS tracking devices so that we can be monitored while making an intoxicated trip to Super Cuca’s.
Daily Nexus columnist Matt Suedkamp has moved to Vancouver, Canada, until this proposition fails.