Americans are already wary of the federal government having collected their phone records, but now we have Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., setting up a slippery slope of more and more data collection.
Earlier today, a Washington Examiner editorial warned that "if phone records are useful now in stopping terrorist attacks, how long before politicians and bureaucrats decide archiving the entire phone call would be even more useful? How long before the limitations and safeguards now in place are set aside?"
Within a few hours, King provided an illustration of precisely what the Examiner editors fear. Responding to a question by Fox News' Bill Hemmer about why the government needs everyone's phone numbers and not just suspects', King said, "Because if you don't have all of them, the system is incomplete."
Pressed further by Hemmer as to why the government needs his phone records, King expanded: "Because you can't distinguish one number from the other as to which one could potentially in the next five years be involved in a terror case. You need to have the full array of numbers so that any time in the next five years, if a number comes up, they can then drill in and find out who in this country spoke to it. It's very hard to decide who to include and who not to include."
Whoa there, Congressman. So because the data is so basic, and because anyone could be connected to terrorism, all of our phone records need to be collected? This opens up the possibility for more data to be "needed" by the government. And beyond that, doesn't this open up the potential "need" for other forms of personal information?
By King's logic, wouldn't a mandatory database of every citizen's DNA make solving crimes easier? It's not hard to decide who to include and who not to. Authorities collect DNA from criminals (and now, thanks to the Supreme Court, arrestees). DNA is collected from people who are most likely to commit a crime. Yes, the system fails sometimes, but it doesn't invade our privacy.
By collecting everyone's phone records, he is in effect saying we're all suspects and should be monitored.