Similarly, we need to work hard to prevent such exclusivity over new technologies not imagined by the framers of the Constitution.
For example, I believe suspects should have the right to record police interrogations if the police have that right. Why not?
I believe information about what data was gathered by police from the cell phone company should be available to the targets upon request.
And I believe information about what is being “droned” should be publicly available.
There are plenty of examples where exclusivity has been denied to authorities, and the need for public safety has been balanced successfully against the public’s right to know. For example, live police radio chatter is available to the public using radios, the Internet or even mobile apps. Police are not allowed exclusive use of the airwaves.
We should also be aware that law enforcement agencies will always try to give themselves exclusive use over every useful new technology. The public needs only to do nothing in order to slouch toward a police state.
Note that this phenomenon does not require any malicious intent on the part of the authorities. Police genuinely do and should want to use all tools at their disposal to catch crooks and terrorists.
But as a society, we need a principle of application that whenever government authorities are given permission to use a technology, the public must be given the ability to use that same technology in the other direction -- or at least have access to or knowledge of what information has been gathered.
We must resist the provably incorrect assumption that all authorities are innocent and all suspects are guilty. Instead, permission to use any new technology must be based upon reality, in which authorities are capable of abuses and citizens can be wrongly accused.
The best way to approach future technologies as they come on line is to cautiously grant permission for governments and police agencies to use them -- but only if citizens can use them, too.
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