When does history start?
According to the US goverment, under a millisecond ago… Technically I suppose this is correct, but the implications for personal privacy, the implications are huge.
For example, the US law enforcement agencies can demand historical records like telephone billing information with nothing more than a subpoena (no probable cause required), and the court as to comply.
Now, that is all fine and dandy, because things like telephone records are historical and technically can be treated as though they are merely records of the telephone company. (You can argue about the ethics of this one)
The real problem appears to start when intercepting slightly historical data. For example if a telephone company uses it’s masts to determine where you are. If the data is stored on the phone company’s computers to monitor any of a number of things (historical trends for marketing, billing advertisers, monitoring the infrastructure), then this is historical data. But this data is being added to in “real time” – when does history start? Where you were an hour ago? Where you were a minute ago? Where you were a second ago? a millisecond?
Technically these are all historical records, and the US law enforcement agencies appear to think that there is no such thing as “now” except as an excuse to make everything past into history.
Somehing similar applies to “data in transit”, this is protected by wiretap restrictions, but if the agencies intercept electronic data using a store, capture and forward, then surely the data is no longer current – it has been stored for a microsecond or more… Say goodbye to privacy of VOIP calls, or any electronic communication.
And just because we live in the UK doesn’t mean we can rest easy – the UK Police Chiefs want to monitor all of our movements using roadside cameras with automatic number plate recognition.