The idea of a “Surveillance State,” where government watches and records our every move, is usually billed to us as a matter of protection.
That’s sure a good way to sell us tyranny.
True, we do sometimes receive protection from governments that keep tabs on us about what we do, where we go, who we see. But if this sort of thing doesn’t also give you the creeps, I am at a loss.
I hear from friends in the Libertarian Party of Virginia, where I live, that bills pending in the State House and Senate would limit the length of time state and local governments may keep data on citizens’ driving habits.
Right now, governments collect a lot of information via license-plate reading cameras, and there are no legal limits on how long the information can be kept; some jurisdictions do keep data indefinitely. AAA Mid-Atlantic, an automobile service organization, is backing the legislation, pushing for a legal limit. “AAA believes that the retention period should be limited to the time necessary to compare it with local and national crime data banks,” a press release states, adding that the limit should reflect the rather short amount of time required, which is “a matter of hours or days, not months or years.”
We don’t advocate limits on this kind of data to protect criminals, but to reduce temptation to those folks in government who might abuse their positions for personal gain or bureaucratic mission creep.
Governments tracking and recording our every move just isn’t safe — even if our safety is the professed goal.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.