Letters to the Editor
Plus Letters To the Editor
It’s a great time to be paranoid. Edward Snowden’s revelations about the previously unimagined scope of global spying by the National Security Agency did what many of us thought was no longer even possible—shocked us about the extent to which members of our own government are willing and able to use technology to take away our freedom, in the supposed pursuit of protecting that freedom. It’s hard to say what was most disturbing about the Wikileaks documents—maybe that NSA agents routinely were (and undoubtedly still are) abusing national security technology for personal gain, stalking their spouses, lovers and basically anyone who crossed them? That the NSA had found a way to subvert a warrant system that was a last meager check on their power? The lack of integrity and sheer contempt for democracy that was revealed rivals anything we’ve seen in American history. (Glenn Greenwald’s book “No Place to Hide” from earlier this year is a great resource for understanding how Wikileaks unfolded, and breaking down its most unsettling revelations.)
In this week’s issue, though, Yasha Levine explains why we don’t need the government to make us paranoid. It’s got nothing, Levine argues, on the for-profit surveillance being run by tech companies like Google. Oh, and if you thought technologies like Tor were keeping your data safe and anonymous, think again.
Levine will be speaking on Thursday at the Creative Convergence Silicon Valley (C2SV) conference in San Jose. It’s free with pre-registration; check out C2SV.com for details.
Steve Palopoli | Editor-in-Chief
It’s great that you dedicated significant space to covering Automatic License Plate Recognition (ALPR) (GT, 9/3). But it’s disappointing that author John Malkin failed to present a meaningful description of the risks and benefits.
It didn’t take much web digging to find a Canadian study that showed what types of crimes are actually solved and prevented by ALPR—mostly identifying suspended or unlicensed drivers and uninsured drivers. It provides some strong arguments in favor of ALPR use, but more importantly, it clarifies what benefits are likely real vs. imagined.
It also didn’t take much digging to find a Washington ACLU report based on a Freedom of Information Act request in which they were able to produce some surprising breaches of privacy – including determining where some police officers live, where they like to take their lunch, and whether they typically speed.
I don’t have a position on ALPRs, but I probably should. I think it would be awesome if the Good Times focused less on city council drama and polarizing hyperbole, and focused instead on intelligent analysis.
Ron Goodman | Santa Cruz
Prayer for Cure
I am lucky to have spent seven years in Senegal and another two years in Mali and Lesotho. It is heartbreaking to hear the news of Ebola spreading across West African countries. People in Africa have always lived in close proximity with family members. It is customary to embrace at meeting friends. Now it seems there is fear at contact. There seems to be an acceleration as the disease spreads across boarders and now there is a case of Ebola in Senegal.
Santa Cruz has a vibrant and friendly African dance and drum community. We are fortunate to have incredibly talented African drum and dance teachers living here. There are classes taught e troupes from West Africa and the Congo. As part of this community, I wish to send a prayer that this epidemic will be contained. I have so many wonderful memories of living in West Africa, and I feel a deep connection to it. I also lived in Lesotho, a small country inside South Africa which suffered the terrible impact of AIDS. It is predicted that as many people who died from AIDS might be cut down by Ebola. Hopefully there will be vaccine and a way to slow down and control the awful spectre of this disease.
Susana Inadomi Gueye | Aptos
Re: ALPR technology
How about a tank? I think it would be good if the SCPD had a howitzer maybe. Plus, I think I’ll go into the station tomorrow and simply surrender for anything I might ever do in the future, just give it up to them and enter the prison system now, as I just can’t be trusted not to some day commit some crime.
— Here’s My License Plate
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STUDYING MICHELANGELO AND DONATELLO The grandkids watch ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ at Santa Cruz Cinema 9. Photograph by Sandra Rosslow
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Hats off to rising comedic star Brendan Lynch, who appeared on Comedy Central this past Tuesday night. The Santa Cruz native performed on the series 2 premiere of Adam Devine’s House Party—part sitcom and part standup special. It’s a well-deserved break for a nice guy who has mastered the art of making fun of you until you laugh.
Santa Cruz participants in the fourth annual Community Leadership Visit (CLV) just returned from Santa Barbara. Each year leaders from local governments, businesses and colleges spend three days with their counterparts in a similar county to talk about solutions to issues: transportation, housing, water, arts, economic vitality, education, homelessness, etc.
“I think it’s wrong that the newspaper reporters have all these documents—the 50,000, whatever they have—and are selling them and giving them out.”
— NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander
— NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander