MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Editorials

June 28, 2014

Surveillance technology must go

Police use of new technology designed to sweep up basic cellphone data from entire neighborhoods is a dangerous development.

The surveillance equipment is used by law enforcement to track cellphones used by suspects and gather information.

The problem is that the technology is indiscriminate.

It can’t be focused on one cellphone. It sweeps up information from every cellphone in the area.

That’s an utter violation of citizens’ rights against illegal search and seizure.

Law enforcement officers are required to get a judge to agree there is a reason to secure a search warrant.

But that’s not the case with this kind of technology.

The technology can’t or isn’t used to pinpoint one suspect’s cellphone. The suspect’s cellphone information is swept up with anyone else’s information who happens to be in the area.

The Obama administration has been quietly telling police departments around the nation not to disclose information regarding the technology.

The administration does not want widespread knowledge about this technology because it is being used by federal agencies such as the FBI to combat terrorism.

The Obama administration does not want terrorists to learn details of the technology so they can’t find ways around it.

We are troubled by the use of the technology. We are troubled by the inevitable violation of citizens’ rights. We are stunned by the federal government’s involvement in hiding the technology from the general public’s scrutiny.

The public has a right to know this technology exists and whether it is being used in their neighborhoods.

The public has a right to determine for itself the value of the technology.

We don’t value it much given the secrecy surrounding it and its potential for abuse.

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