By: Jesse Cryderman
Right now you are being monitored.
Your data is being gathered. A record of your visit to this page has been created. Your phone and text records sit on a hard drive next to your location data, and transaction logs and tollbooth tallies are available for access. If you use any â€śfreeâ€ť online services or social networking such as Gmail, YouTube or Facebook, you have generated great volumes of personal profile information that is bought and sold without your knowledge. If you live in many metropolitan cities, a photographic history of your red light violations has been stored. Your medial records have been digitized just like your cable bill. Your IP address can be easily gleaned, your GPS signal tracked, and from that, a satellite image of your location, accurate within feet, can be created.
This much is indisputable. The question is, how did we get here and what happens next?
In the United States, conducting electronic surveillance has historically faced two hurdles: legal protections afforded by the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. constitution, and the cost and complexity required to monitor and collect data on a person of interest. As a result, any wiretapping or electronic tracking activities required a warrant.
Over the past two decades, though, four factors have completely changed this framework lowering the hurdles to mere bumps in the road:
The Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA)
The national tragedy of September 11, 2011 and subsequent executive orders (Patriot Act)
The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance ACT (FISA) Amendments Act of 2008 (FAA)
A massive increase in the amount of voluntarily shared personal data