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04 March 2008

Can You Hear Me Now?

Can You Hear Me Now?

The sticky and annoying wireless company catch phrase. But effective in boiling down our primary goal of using the telephone, yes?

Once upon a time, we were doing some work for a wireless carrier back in the days when phones were analog, the phones were as big as a hoagie and the usage time was .35 cents per minute or more. Remember that? Nobody that paid for their own cell bill loitered on the phone the way people do now. And boy, do they now.

Back then, statistically, empirically and historically people chatting on the phone ad nauseum were likely using a cloned phone - which was illegal. So we had some nifty gadgets to legally listen in on the cellular airwaves, browsing if you will, for conversations that took on a lolly gagging type-feel. We could verify our hunch with some other nifty gadgets and then effect a, uh, service interruption of the people in possession of the cloned phone. We knew what we were doing, people with cloned phones were in danger of arrest, search and seizure; and people without cloned phones were not. There was no time, no interest and no motive to voyeuristically listen to and investigative calls that did not meet our criteria and end-of-game objective.

Oh and by the way, some very, very bad people used cloned phones to coordinate some very, very bad crimes. Stopping them required creativity, resolve and yes, an occasional invasion of privacy. The result (people still do like results don't they??) was Us=1, Bad Guys=0.

A lot has changed since then...or has it?

Let us remember folks, that there is a difference between information and intelligence. People talking is information. Suspects talking about certain things could be usable intelligence. Since most of us I presume are in the first category of conversation, we don't merit a glance, a file or a flag. But if you are in the second category of conversation, then yes, you should be pissed about the allegedly widespread privacy invasion because you will likely get snared. So go ahead and complain, it will make the search for you even easier. :)

We enjoy our Freedoms and we enjoy our Liberty. Heck, we have been singing about those since kindergarten. But evil is knocking at the door.

Are we willing to allow our intelligence gatherers to do their work to keep evil at bay? Or do we maintain a death grip on our privacy and demand our right to talk privately about our grocery list while the crooks are planning their next caper under the same absolute protections?

RRRRiiiinnnngg......anybody gonna answer that?


Dana said...

I believe national security has to be our number one concern. If it isn't, there will be no need to worry about the government listening to our conversations - we'll be worrying about staying alive instead.

Deb in OPKS said...

On the surface the need for national security outweighing our privacy sounds great, but it's easily abused. We've all heard the stories. There must be checks and balances or we lose our democracy for a dictatorship. We cannot allow the president to do secret wiretapping without some approval of congress. No, the average Joe doesn't need to know about it, but the decision cannot be made by the president alone.

Tismee2 said...

I always say "If you're doing nothing wrong then you have nothing to worry about". I know this may not always be the case but as you say these are 'evil' times and if listening to me moan about my kids stops someone blowing up a plane let them in! (poor buggers!)

By the way, I need educashun. What's a hoagie?

L.A. Mama said...

Here is where I stand on this issue. I can undestand Dana's perspective but not everything is that black and white and absolute. I wish it was...but Life is made up of many gray areas...sometimes it seems like an impressionistic painting - a little blurry around the edges. Remember the "bad" intelligence we got that got us into Iraq? How can we be sure that won't happen to a regular citizen "who isn't doing anything wrong and has nothing to worry about"? What if I am talking to my cousin about how mad I am at my dog for chewing up my made I could just "kill him" (and by the way...I don't have a dog and I would NEVER hurt an animal EVER...this is just a hypothetical conversation that could be had by anyone)and then my cousin changes the subject to the President of the United States. Let's just say they have developed software that "detects" trigger you see where I am going here?? Sure, we hope at some point a human being will sit down and listen to the conversation verbatim before kicking down my frontdoor with a SWAT team...but beaurocracy often sabotages the best of intentions.

Kat Wilder said...

Each chip into the Constitution is the entry into much greater losses of freedoms, and then where does it stop?

Fear is how things are presented to us here in the U.S., and — granted — fear is a very motivating factor.

I understand that the threats are real, but we will cease to be a free people if we allow fear to determine how we act instead of a thoughtful examination of the facts and realities.

Michael M. said...

Seems that people are either fearful/cautious of what the government might do to us or fearful/cautious of what 'goes bump in the night' might do to us. At the end of the day, sounds like we are all fearful/cautious of something though, huh?

It is knowledge and experience that give us our perspective on an issue. So it stands to reason that as people's knowledge and experience differs, so too does their perspective.

Thank you all for your insightful & respectful comments!

Post Script to Gail: A hoagie is like a sub sandwich, or hard roll with fixin's (meat, veggies) inside. That help?

Scout's Honor said...


Fabulous blog. I whole-heartedly agree. We must not tie the hand of the good guys. As you said, you couldn't care less about the conversation when you were an "information gather." I think I would not mind a little dink in what is interpreted as the constitution today, so there is never again 9-11 or other similarly evil plots. Furthermore, I believe the founding fathers (I know this is a cliche) would be turning over in their graves at what is now under the veil of the constitution as protected. It's a sad world indeed when the bad guys have more "rights" than those who are trying to combat them. Finally, it's a shame that now we've opened the telecommunication companies to lawsuits, so that that don't even want to cooperate with the good guys. Ridiculous.

Michael M. said...

Thank you Scout's Honor...right back at ya.

Privacy rights are a fine line...perhaps with good reason. I just hope that a "tie" always goes to the good guys....