MySpace Panopticon Plugin and Police State Powers

Fred asks,

“Do we really need to track our children, monitoring their logins on computers around the world? And what does it really get us?”

I’ll let Digby handle exactly what this (and things like this) gets us:

“…the most dangerous thing we have done to ourselves domestically since 9/11 is to hugely expand our policing powers and throw unlimited funds at the agencies who will find a reason and a way to flex their new, expensive muscle. It is a law of nature. If you build it they will use it.

We are building a well funded national police state apparatus at the same time that we are giving unlimited money and power to our military and foreign intelligence agencies to operate in the United States. This is incredibly dangerous…”

The only really “good” thing about this particular situation is that, while MySpace has pretty wide adoption, it is ultimately an “opt-in” system in a way that being Joe Citizen isn’t. Nonetheless, the central fact that Digby hammers home again and again applies: if you build a police state, it will get used. It’s not even a question of “abuse” – these sorts of monitoring powers are by their very nature abused; it’s almost more difficult to imagine a situation where these powers aren’t used for bad purposes.

To play devil’s advocate for a second: if “internet child predators” are such a huge problem, why create a system that allows discrete tracking of individual children in physical space? And don’t tell me that it’ll be “secure”…


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