Berkeley: What We Didn’t Know

Even at its worst, the FBI was far less draconian than dozens of secret police forces active around the world then and today. But changes in technology have vastly increased the ease of surveillance. In the 1950s, in order to eavesdrop on a meeting in Jessica Mitford’s house, two bumbling FBI agents hid in a crawl space beneath it; the mission almost came to grief when one fell asleep and started snoring. But today those agents would have access to vastly more: not just Mitford’s phone calls—which they were already tapping—but her credit card statements, her Google searches, her air travel itineraries, her bookstore purchases, her e-mails, her text messages, her minute-by-minute locations as signaled by the GPS in her mobile phone.

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Letters

Subversives’ August 15, 2013