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Special report: Surveillance programs raise safety-vs-privacy questions

Original post made on Sep 24, 2013

We are being watched. Surveillance programs operated by government agencies, from the National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security to local police departments, are accumulating untold amounts of information on residents who, in the vast majority of cases, are law-abiding citizens.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, September 24, 2013, 7:20 AM

Comments (9)

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Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Sep 24, 2013 at 9:21 am

We give up privacy everyday -- willingly.

We buy security cameras for home/office, we sign up for store loyalty cards who track us and end up know more about us than we do. On applications for all kinds of services, we willingly give up our life story.

The cat is out of the bag.


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Posted by Foster Green
a resident of Woodside: Family Farm/Hidden Valley
on Sep 24, 2013 at 9:25 am

Maybe the cat is out of the bag in public, but anyone with those fatalistic, can't change it attitudes needs to look at what the government is doing and what is allowed under the Constitution.


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Posted by Joe
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Sep 24, 2013 at 10:49 am

Write to your Congressional representative asking for an explanation for the government's retention of any data on people who are not targets for investigation.

If this surveillance equipment is good enough to capture data on-the-fly about people of interest, it is also good enough to immediately discard data on people who are not of interest.

A policy that requires this would help significantly in alleviating concerns about being spied upon, in my opinion.

This is the least the government can do to protect our civil liberties in an era of electronic snooping.


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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Sep 24, 2013 at 1:06 pm

Give some of the behavior of local LEOs, they should put a camera on themselves.


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Posted by Erin
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Sep 25, 2013 at 7:14 am

Given that my email shows me advertisements for dining tables because I once wrote an an email mentioning one, It is not hard to envision algorithms being used to compile profiles of individuals' habits, health, religious and political affiliations using data that is collected. If the purpose of the collection in the first place is to solve a crime, why would data ever need to be kept beyond one month?

Thank you ACLU (and Almanac) for bringing to the fore. Let's get the policy in place first.


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Posted by Wondering?
a resident of another community
on Sep 25, 2013 at 9:44 am

The ACLU is the last group that I want involved in anything to do with national, or personal, security. The ACLU was riddled with communists in its earliest incarnations, went to great end to defend NAZIs during WWII, and has been nothing but an apologist/enabler of just about every left-wing group that has raised its ugly head in the past fifty years in the political arena.

The EFF isn't that much better. At least it has some people involved with the technical expertise to understand the technologies. Unfortunately, it's previous positions seem to be also tilted to the Left.

These issues are complicated at some level, and not so complicated at others. It's clear that we have enemies (the US) that want to kill us. It's not clear that groups like the ACLU understand that, or even care.

It's not that hard to come to the conclusion that we are at the point where we need another Bill of Rights that is updated for this point-in-time. There's little evidence that the ACLU, or the EFF, would be the right people to be involved in this sort of work. Which leaves us with the question: "who is?"


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Posted by Ben Franklin
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Sep 25, 2013 at 10:11 am

I'll take the ACLU defending the Bill of Rights over @wondering's solution.

" It's clear that we have enemies (the US) that want to kill us. "

Sounds like:

"Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we."

That's why I'll take the Bill of Rights as is, and the ACLU to defend it.

No way I want a moron Congressman (Gohmert?) to rewrite one of the most American documents ever, but the reality is, no way I want billionaires to re-write it. And it's billionaires that own the politicians.

Good luck Larry, this afternoon. Rooting for ya, but not rooting for you to buy more politicians.


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Posted by whatrwedumb?
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 26, 2013 at 9:06 am

What surprises me about this is the impression that people seem to think this is somehow a new thing. Surviellance of the general publis has been happening for a long, long time. It is just so much easier now, because of our beloved technology. How many people have cell/smartphones, computers (tablets, etc), and how many people use those devices daily? How many of you with those devices post life events on social media (or share opinions) in virtual public venues such as this? (Like I am doing now). And you are all worried about some cameras? ROFL!

Really people, wake up!


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Posted by old timer
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 26, 2013 at 3:45 pm

The decision to purchase license plate readers, is perhaps the most obnoxious decision any Menlo Park Council has ever made.

This should really trigger a RECALL of all Council members who approve this. Even the State Highway Patrol, does not keep data beyond 2 months. What is wrong with the residents of Menlo Park, who have yet to rise up and kill this proposal.

My word, traffic light cameras, and now this. What a pathetic council and what lousy leadership from the Police Department, City Staff and City Manager.


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