In an effort to crack down on distracted driving, lawmakers in several states are looking to pass legislation that would allow police to use a new device that can determine if a driver was using their cell phone behind the wheel. While the intentions are benevolent, the potential for abuse with the “Textalyzer” is startling.
The device, which resembles a tablet, has not been approved for use by law enforcement yet. But it would involve police plugging the device into a driver’s cell phone at an accident scene to scan phone data, which would give police exact times of phone use. It can tell police if a motorist opened any apps, sent any texts, and received or made phone calls. If police determine that the driver was doing any of these things, they would be able to go after them for distracted driving.
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National security officials are continually reassuring Americans that their communications aren’t getting caught in massive dragnets, and that when it does happen, the communications are handled responsibly. But recently-released opinions from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC)—the seven-judge panel charged with oversight of National Security Agency (NSA) spying programs—show just the opposite is true.
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There’s a lot to dislike about President Donald Trump’s immigration policies—the wall plan, the deportations and the staggering cost, to name a few. But as arrests rise, one aspect of immigration enforcement that is often overlooked is the the use of overreaching surveillance and tracking.
Under the Trump administration, the feds have used controversial tools to sniff out immigrants. Stingray cell site simulators are particularly concerning. The Stingray is the most popular variety of IMSI (International Mobile Subscriber Identity) catchers created by Harris Corporation, a defense contractor, and it’s intended for use in overseas military investigations.
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The recent firing of FBI Director James Comey leaves those who are concerned about mass surveillance in a precarious situation. On the one hand, Comey was no protector of Americans’ Fourth Amendment right to privacy, but neither is the president who will be searching for his replacement. One of the suspected favorites to succeed Comey, former Michigan Congressman Mike Rogers, is even more in favor of draconian surveillance than the ousted FBI director.
While Rogers is just one of eight candidates the Trump administration has interviewed for the position, all are establishment intelligence officials, including a Bush-era counterterrorism expert.
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Molotov cocktails and bricks are flying at former bastions of free speech like UC Berkeley. Conservatives are right that these violent protests from college liberals are an attack on free expression, but it’s more than just “whiny snowflakes” on campus who endanger this fundamental right. While these foolish protests over controversial speakers like Ann Coulter and Milo Yiannopoulos pose a threat to free speech, it’s still the government that puts it in the most peril.
Reporters Without Borders recently released its 2017 World Press Freedom Index, in which it ranks 180 countries on a variety of free speech issues such as surveillance, censorship, and crackdowns on espionage and whistleblowers. The United States fell two spots this year to 43rd in the world.
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