Civil libertarians are riled over the news that the Drug Enforcement Administration is building a massive highway license-plate-camera program to spy on millions of unwitting drivers to catch smugglers and other criminals, reports the Christian Science Monitor. The development comes on the heels of other revelations about digital surveillance that suggest a growing push by Washington to check on what people are up to in real time, often when they're not suspected of doing anything wrong.
The national car-spying program differs from terrorism-related National Security Agency surveillance programs such as those President Obama has vowed to scale back. Americans may be more carefully weighing societal benefits versus privacy, given the ubiquity of Big Data and reliance on GPS-dependent hand-held computers and phones. “We either ignore the issue altogether or we run around like chickens, screaming, ‘Big Brother! Big Brother!’ ” says law Prof. Clifford Fishman of Catholic University. “The Supreme Court's standard of Americans having a reasonable expectation of privacy … doesn't work anymore, so we need a new way to define when privacy needs to be protected from digital surveillance and retention of data.”