U.S. Recording Border Crossings of Citizens

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Apparently, the Department of Homeland Security is now recording the border crossings of U.S. citizens. If you drive or walk back into the country from Canada or Mexico, the federal government will store that information for up to 15 years and has a right to share the data with any domestic law enforcement agency.

This is, of course, to help uncover terrorists and other criminals. Customs and Border Protection say they are not using the information to look for patterns of movement, but admit the data could be used by other law enforcement agencies that are trying out new technology designed to uncover suspicious or criminal behavior.

I fall pretty solidly in the libertarian camp when it comes to issues of privacy and how much we should allow our government to monitor us. Heck, I have serious problems with red light cameras. I know I’m not a moderate on this issue. So I will keep my personal comments short and cynical: eventually, I expect some government official/agency to seriously advocate warrantless monitoring of all U.S. citizens’ credit card purchases, phone calls and travel in order to detect criminal patterns of behavior. And a depressing chunk of people will support the measure because, as the naïve saying goes, “if you’re not doing anything wrong, you have nothing to fear.”

O.k., I’m done with the over-the-top part of this post. Back to a reasoned discussion.

I know our government has been recording information on international air arrivals for many years. And I know including land border crossings in that system is not a big change. But shouldn’t there be some protections as to who can access this information and for what cause (such as a system of warrants)? Am I just being overly concerned here? What do you think?