After outraging many civil libertarians for his attacks on Edward Snowden and support of the Obama surveillance programs, Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) has finally called for answer on the tracking of citizens . . . by Ford Motor Company.
In a move reminiscent of Dianne Feinstein’s public outcry over drone surveillance, Franken appears to have found a surveillance issue that is sufficently removed from President Obama. He has demanded answers from Ford on the use of GPS information to track customers’ activities.
The controversy began after Ford Vice President Jim Farley said (in a statement later retracted), “We know everyone who breaks the law; we know when you’re doing it. We have GPS in your car, so we know what you’re doing. By the way, we don’t supply that data to anyone.” Strangely, that sounds familiar. If you recall, President Obama insisted that the NSA is gathering hundreds of millions of communications on citizens but that data is not shared with anyone until it is formally approved for disclosure.
Franken is chairman of the Senate subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law. However, that did not motivate him in denouncing the warrantless program of the Obama Administration. We discussed earlier how Franken defended the program by saying “There are certain things that are appropriate for me to know that is not appropriate for the bad guys to know.”
Now, however, he is shocked, shocked by Ford. Franken insists that “I believe this is too little transparency. American drivers deserve better.” Hmmm.
Of course, if this is true, Justice Brandeis warned us years ago about where such things are first learned by companies and citizens alike:
Our government is the potent, the omnipresent teacher. For good or for ill, it teaches the whole people by its example. Crime is contagious. If the government becomes a law-breaker, it breeds contempt for law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy.
Olmstead v. United States, 277 U.S. 438, 485 (1928)