• Twitter
  • Facebook
News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments

You can't hide

The concept of privacy continues to "evolve," i.e. the trend of everybody wanting to know where everybody else is all the time continues to strengthen. Fort Wayne Police Chief Rusty York wants to put GPS chips in all patrol cars:

It will allow officers, dispatchers and managers to see where the vehicles are located across the city. The chief said this will help in officer safety because it will better locate officers calling for help.

Not good enough, says the head of the Patrolman's Benevolent Association. If you put the chips in our radios instead, you could know where the police officers are at all times, not just their cars.

In the meantime, the ACLU is fighting a proposal in a Rhode Island school district to put chips in studetns' backpacks and equip school buses with GPS. The district says the chips are intended to record only when students enter and exit the bus and the GPS would show where the bus was on its route. But the ACLU says the program raises privacy and safety concerns:

"There's absolutely no need to be tagging children," he said. "We are not questioning the school district's ability to use GPS to monitor school buses. But it's a quantitative leap to monitor children themselves."

[. . .]

Brown also raised concerns that unauthorized people, perhaps using RFID readers that are easily bought online, could exploit information contained on the tags.

So, if the chips and GPS systems are used for safety, that's OK. But if they're used to know more about us than we want known, that's bad. How do we do one without the other? How do we know if we've crossed the line?

Whenver I think about the possibility of having an accident or getting into trouble in some other way, I'm rather glad to know about the GPS function of cell phones. I don't ever have to feel I'm out there unprotected, on my own. And I don't especially worry that somebody might be monitoring my movements that I don't want monitoring my movements.

There aren't vast networks of government snoops involved in such monitoring yet, but that doesn't there couldn't be. England seems to have every square foot covered with cameras these days -- people can't set foot in public without being on monitors that are watched by police 24 hours a day.


Bob G.
Wed, 01/09/2008 - 4:48pm

But in England, when a crime is committed, at least the police can view the camera footage (and that's helped to no small end).

As for the whole GPS/police/car thing, I'm on the fence over this...not leaning toward either side, as there are good and bad points in both camps.

What I would recommend would be to place the GPS in the cars, and transponders that report BACK TO the cars (on the duty belts). That way we know where "1-Adam-12" is AS WELL AS the officer who left the vehicle to pursue someone fleeing on foot.

This would apply ONLY to on-duty officers without take home vehicles. They sign in or sign out the transponders every shift (which are pre-assigned to pre-determined cars, so there's no "mix-up").

It would be less costly in the long run.