Let Me Sum Up
If hope is a good thing, maybe the best thing, and it never dies, then fear is its evil twin. It’s a terrible thing, maybe the worst thing, but it too seems to be a member of the undead.
It’s certainly alive in Texas, where the Dallas Morning News tells us that the Ledge is considering a slew of tech-privacy bills. To quote the paper:
For the most part, these are silly bills driven by movie-inflamed fears that ignite the sort of outrage we’d find amusing in any other context. The idea that technology leads to an authoritarian government watching our every move is relevant if you’re a hacker or a political militant, but most of the fears expressed come from folks who vastly overestimate the military-industrial-congressional complex’s interest in their goings-on.
What this really is about is people’s fear of technology. The cellphone tracking one I know little about. My inclination is that if you carry a GPS in your pocket, you shouldn’t be upset if people want to use that to track you if you’re suspected of a crime. The solution: don’t carry one. But maybe you can convince me otherwise.
I can’t talk much about the smart meter problems, because I’ve done work for Oncor, among other reasons. Therefore, I have no credibility on this matter. So I’ll just say the concerns about smart meters are largely ridiculous, even borderline insane, and that TV reporters who give voice to such claims are giving you the very definition of a false equivalency. So there.
So let’s look at the suggested ban on drones. The DMN’s editorial board took a stand against this bill with an argument that I initially found a little too narrow: that it would hurt journalism. After a little research, I realize that contention is not as silly as it sounds. And the underlying logic is correct: The bill masks itself as a privacy bill, putting to rest fears that drones will be hovering around your house, looking to peer into your Jason Bourne-esque private life.
That doesn’t even get to the larger problem with trying to ban drones (or UAVs) in general: that the FAA is already working on drone legislation, its right to govern U.S. skies supersedes states rights, and the agency by all accounts is taking a more thoughtful and less fearful approach to doing so.
People are also confusing two debates here. One is a very timely, very important discussion about the military use of drones for targeted killing. The fuzzy justifications for such actions are one of the most legitimate criticisms of the Obama Administration. Such killings, even in war theaters, incite visceral, largely justified hatred of the U.S. among friendly Arab nations. That doesn’t even begin to address military and spy agency bug drones being developed for wartime use and assassination, which is also seen as the cost of doing business in the 21st century.
But trying to ban all drones because of this is like trying to ban crop dusters because you fear the military might attack you with a fighter jet. And, I might add, just as sensible.
I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I’m actually kind of excited about the George W. Bush Library opening.
Dwaine Caraway is funny most of the time, the way a drunk uncle is funny. Then sometimes he’s not funny at all, the way a drunk uncle is not funny at all. Like this time.
Okay, sure, or over things like, say, healthcare?