Constitution 3.0

December 1st, 2011

Jeff Rosen and Ben Wittes have a cool book by that title. A discussion on NPR here:

Rosen describes one privacy scenario, imagined at a conference by Google public policy chief Andrew McLaughlin, in which websites like Google and Facebook could someday potentially post video from live surveillance cameras online — and then archive those videos in a database.

“[McLaughlin said,] ‘It would be theoretically possible to click on a picture of anyone in the world — say me — back click on me to find out where I came from, forward click on me to see where I’m going, and basically have 24/7 ubiquitous surveillance of everyone on the planet at all times,” Rosen says. “This is a GPS case on steroids. … [McLaughlin said], ‘First of all, should Google do this? And would it violate the Constitution?’ And the fact that there was no clear answer to that question … interested me and made me think how inadequate our current Constitutional doctrine is to resolve the most profound privacy cases of our age.”

Rosen says if this scenario — as unlikely as it may seem — were to take place, it would raise legal questions that aren’t covered by the Constitution.

This reminds me of something I wrote in 2007:

As distinguished from previous forms of public monitoring, this new form of surveillance will be omnipresent, as it can record vast areas of space over a very small period of time. It provides the users of this system with omniscience to know everything happening in a specific location at a specific time. Furthermore, this information will be indefinitely retained, and easily accessible. When future versions of this technology is properly implemented, it will be possible to enter a time, date, and location, and witness what happened at that moment as if you were there. It is a virtual time machine.

Ubiquitous surveillance? Omniveillance?