If PRISM Is Good Policy, Why Stop With Terrorism?
What, many ask, is the real price of giving up privacy? The government has presented PRISM, and other similar surveillance programs, as a solution to a danger and fear — terrorism — which is almost impossible to comprehend: Terrorism is everywhere and nowhere; the battlefield is across the globe; the threat is omnipresent. It is difficult for the average person to perceive and understand until it is splashed across television screens. Terrorism is by definition designed to “shock and awe.” It is theatre of the macabre.
1. Child Pornography: … Since the NSA seems to have access to a substantial amount of web traffic, what if it used spare capacity for “deep packet inspection” technology to identify known child-pornography pictures and videos?
2. Speed Limits: Many accidents are related to reckless driving, and speeding can make them significantly more dangerous and deadly. What if instead of enforcing speed limits by stationing police officers to patrol our streets, a relatively ineffective and costly method of enforcement, the government instead monitored the speed of all cars in real time using cellphones.
3. Illegal Downloading: NSA PRISM level surveillance could be of use in identifying which users are using BitTorrent, then identifying the users who have uploaded or downloaded the most, and identifying whether their downloads involved illegal content.