Sure, let’s put body cameras on cops so we can watch what they do.
So why don’t you wear a body camera, too, so we can watch what you do? Or do you have something to hide?
Don’t look now, but we all have something to hide — and we’re all under ever-intensifying surveillance in this transforming age of high-tech snooping gadgets.
And while the Charleston Police Department is adding at least 120 body cameras by June, it also warns that they “are not going to be the end all, be all” in showing all that transpires between officers and others. At least that’s how Deputy Chief Tony Elder put it at Tuesday’s demonstration of the new equipment.
Meanwhile, lots of us don’t necessarily like the new realities of being on camera much of the time — and of being tracked through our Internet wanderings, emails, phone calls, phone locations and vehicle movements.
You need not be an anti-government conspiracy theorist to be relentlessly reminded of this chilling line from George Orwell’s “1984”: “BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU.”
And check out this scary scoop from Tuesday’s USA Today: “At least 50 U.S. law enforcement agencies have secretly equipped their officers with radar devices that allow them to effectively peer through the walls of houses to see whether anyone is inside, a practice raising new concerns about the extent of government surveillance.”
Not here, though.
More from that USA Today chiller: “Those agencies, including the FBI and the U.S. Marshals Service, began deploying the radar systems more than two years ago with little notice to the courts and no public disclosure of when or how they would be used. The technology raises legal and privacy issues because the U.S. Supreme Court has said officers generally cannot use high-tech sensors to tell them about the inside of a person’s house without first obtaining a search warrant.”
Lest you dismiss those concerns as unwarranted, think about the threat of police radar not just catching you speeding but catching you inside a building.
Think, too, about this alarming revelation from a Tuesday wire-service dispatch: “The government’s health insurance website is quietly sending consumers’ personal data to private companies that specialize in advertising and analyzing Internet data for performance and marketing, The Associated Press has learned.”
It’s creepy to know that law enforcement is vastly expanding its capacity to monitor us.
It’s creepier to know that the National Security Agency has grabbed massive quantities of Americans’ personal communications.
It’s nauseating to know that advertisers are using government’s access to folks’ medical information to make unsolicited pitches to them.
And it’s galling to know that, from that AP story, “The Obama administration says HealthCare.gov’s connections to data firms were intended to help the consumer experience.”
Sure they were. Just like “If you like your doctor and your health care plan, you can keep your doctor and your health care plan,” right?
And what about that huge 2012 S.C. Department of Revenue data-breach debacle?
OK, so Lowcountry residents haven’t been subjected to the Big Brother-esque intrusion of getting tickets based on traffic-camera capture of red-light running.
OK, so with so many malicious malefactors in our midst, giving those who protect and serve more modern means to apprehend miscreants sounds like a good idea.
For instance, all fans of truth, justice and the American way should be rooting for NFL investigators to uncover the hopefully video-recorded truth about “Deflategate.”
That’s merely the latest scandal centering on devious New England Patriots mastermind Bill Belichick, the “Spygate” culprit recently — and aptly — dubbed “Belicheat” by Pro Football Hall of Fame coach Don Shula.
But before sacrificing your individual or any individual’s privacy on the foolish notion that ignoring the Fourth Amendment enhances instead of undermines our safety, ponder the risk of the authorities arbitrarily turning their radar — and much more — on you.
And ponder this enduring warning from “1984”:
“Winston kept his back turned to the telescreen. It was safer; though, as he well knew, even a back can be revealing.”
So who’s watching your back?
Frank Wooten is assistant editor of The Post and Courier. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.