1. APX says:

    To further your angels/demons thing, consider the following:

    All the governments and their data collecting minions combined ain’t got nuthin’ on God.

    In the end…the very end….when we (everyone who has ever existed) have to stand in front of everyone at the General Judgment and have to
    make a public account for every thought, word, deed, etc…well, I don’t know about the rest of you, but I have bigger things to worry about than people tracking at what time I take my showers and what I sign out at the library.

  2. NoTambourines says:

    Publicly, the American Librarian Association is adamant about user privacy (item III in the ALA Code of Ethics), and many libraries don’t even keep information on who checked out what. They may not be able to show you your circulation record because they don’t have it. Nor will they tell you who has a book if it is checked out.

    I hope all has gone as well privately as publicly, but librarians have been vocal opponents of coerced collaboration with fishing-expedition investigations.

    If people feel they are being watched, they self-censor in how they seek information, and freedom of information is essential to meaningful free speech. And they’d stop using the library (except for the bathrooms).

    The ALA “Privacy Tool Kit”:

    And the ALA “Resolution on the Use and Abuse of National Security Letters”

    I’m glad we have someone going to bat for us readers at least on that point.

  3. majuscule says:

    I already know they can track us. They know plenty about me. But not all. Yet.

    I keep my cell phone off much of the time. (No reception at my home in the hills.)

    I’m thinking a muddy license plate might not be a bad idea. (Oh, I’m sorry officer, I didn’t know it was so dirty. Here, let me just brush it off…)

    Locally we also have something called Fast Track for auto paying bridge tolls (I don’t use it, rarely cross the bridges.) THEY use Fast Track info from scanners along the freeways to see how fast traffic is moving from point to point (not just on bridges) and proclaim travel times on electronic signs.

    As far as my Catholicsm, I am loudly Catholic on Facebook–while I would never share other facets of my life there. I do this purposely. I knew it was working when my son’s new girlfriend told me her stepfather was investigating her new boyfriend’s family and he looked up from the computer and said, “Well, his mother is Catholic!”

  4. wmeyer says:

    There is this. Transparent to on-axis viewing, but not to off-axis, as at stoplights and such.

    I doubt there is anything better to be found. Although I do recall seeing something about a gadget which emits a pulse of light at the instant it detects a light impulse. Intriguing notion–your plate would be unobscured, but the camera would be blinded.

  5. Lin says:

    @APX……..You are correct that in the END, this will not matter! But now, it is appalling and could be used for very evil purposes. I like the muddy license plate myself!

  6. Cantor says:

    Father, this isn’t a secure website, so I’m going to say to the 17 global intelligence agencies that are logging in, that he is kidding just now.

    (Apologies to Leo and TWW)

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

    [Here at the Steam Pipe Trunk Distribution Venue we take these things very seriously. o{];¬) ]

  7. The Masked Chicken says:

    All of this made possible by an increasingly digital society. Historians have been warning about this for years. Not only can they track you, but they can falsify the historical record so completely that it cannot be detected, so, if they want to make up something against you, they can and there is NOTHING you can do about it.

    I use analog, where possible: I do not own a credit card; I pay for everything in cash; I use money orders and the U. S. mail (which, I know is being photographed, but there is a physical copy which overrides any digital fabrication); I refuse to use store cards; my electric bill is $6.00; I use a dial-up phone; I do not own a car; I walk where I can; I leave my cell phone turned off (although they can turn it back on, but it is usually low on power, so they can’t track for more than a few minutes.

    Yes, I use the Internet and such, but there are steps one can take to reduce the digital footprint.

    Modern youth is so used to being tracked that they will only learn the sad lessons of history too late, I fear.

    The Chicken

  8. Servus Tuus says:

    Wait until something like this is used to find out who the Catholics are that show up to Mass on Sunday morning. If you don’t think something like that is coming, you’re kidding yourself. The ACLU most certainly won’t say anything in that case.

  9. jflare says:

    After a fashion, I find this posting..a little odd. So a police agency can track me as I go across town because I come within range of a squad car’s camera. OK. What’s new?


    Do we mean to suggest now that such a capability poses a distinct threat to us? How? Yes, we want to be “private” in that we don’t want Big Brother leaning over our shoulder every moment. Yet we still have little difficulty with using a debit card at Wal-Mart.
    We can’t have it both ways.

    Seems to me that we still have a distinct advantage over our purported “overlords” that nobody seem to remember: Finding anything important usually requires having something to look FOR. If you’re doing what you can to abide by law, you’ll likely have rather little chance of being bothered about nonsense.

    If we’re worried about government controlling us..that’s why we have a ballot box once every few years. We should use it.

  10. jflare says:

    Something else I likely should mention:
    If you’re not happy that law enforcement or government agencies have the ability to track you, be glad that it IS law enforcement agencies and government, not some nut somewhere who can track anybody any way he wishes.
    True, there’s a risk to society if that nut should figure out how to hack into government or police systems, but even, said nut will still have the same problem: He needs to have something or someone to look for. Otherwise, all the nut might collect will be so many metric tons of useless information.

  11. Dienekes says:

    Having spent 4 years in the military, a career as a federal law enforcement agent, and as a lifetime history buff–yes, I AM concerned. Within living memory I can recall the paucity of information available to me while doing investigations. Usually my “tools” were a shared telephone, clumsy computerized crime databases with incomplete and outdated information, and knocking on people’s doors to talk to them as seen on Dragnet. Pretty inefficient, although we did well enough in the long haul. And as a general rule our moral compasses were in working order. If something was stupid or wrong, we just flat would not do it. Boy Scout oath stuff, if you will.

    I am not the first person to think that “inefficient” law enforcement in a free society is preferable to an efficient police apparatus in an amoral society.

    A long time ago in a galaxy far away a callow college student was riding with a BIA tribal policeman on a Sioux reservation. The student–me–asked the policeman how he liked working for “the Government”. He stiffened up, gave me a long slow look, and gritted, “I don’t work for the Government–I work for the PEOPLE!”.

    We don’t need more high-tech spy systems. We need more people in authority who know who they really work for and the integrity to do the right thing.

    To hell with expediency.

  12. Lin says:

    jflare……As The Masked Chicken stated above “if they want to make something up about you, they can”. And with the nuts we have in charge now, Catholics or any other groups can and will be tracked down and persecuted. The “free” elections don’t appear to be so free and valid anymore and the people in charge want it that way. This is no time to be gullible. A healthy dose of cynicism is what is needed today. And a willingness to be martyred for the faith! Pray!

  13. APX says:


    Worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubblegum.

    Whatever happened to trusting in Divine Providence? If it’s all going to go down and there will be mass persecutions and martyrdom, then fiat voluntas tua.

    FWIW: if you hang a shoe lace from your trunk lid that it dangles over your licence plate, it can’t be read properly by traffic cameras/scanners.

  14. Pumpkin Eater says:

    Cars have license plates so they can be easily identified by others on the highway. There is no right to be anonymous on public highways. Recording licesnse plates passing on public streets and highways doesn’t concern me because the information is gathered from public places. What if I stand on the side of a road and record the license plates of the cars that pass? Shouldn’t I be able do with the information as I see fit? I am more concerned that the government collects information but doesn’t share it. Since we citizens are paying for the collection and analysis of this public information, the government should be required to post it on the web.

  15. Cantor says:

    Dienekes –

    I partially agree with your concerns; it is horrifying to wonder what might have happened had Stasi or the Gestapo had this technology. But I suspect that the parents of kidnapped children would not share your preference for inefficiency, but would rather have the location of every vehicle in the country constantly tracked. Therein lies the difficulty in assessing whether the new world is better or worse.

  16. jflare says:

    Lin said:
    “As The Masked Chicken stated above “if they want to make something up about you, they can”. And with the nuts we have in charge now, Catholics or any other groups can and will be tracked down and persecuted.”

    Um, Lin, Chicken, you seem to assume that the nuts in charge will bother to make a case in a court of law. I think that unlikely. We have the term “kangaroo court” for a reason. Consider the example of the Gestapo and the KGB this past century. They didn’t bother with actually proving why they could detain, imprison, or even kill people. They simply put together a farce of a court to make it look good, then did as they pleased.
    Or, consider that King Henry VIII inflicted the English version of the Protestant Reformation, killing many priests and Catholics, stealing Church property, etc., all because the Pope wouldn’t annul his marriage.

    Technology and evidence-gathering may be the excuses they use at one time or another, but I think ultimately they’ll do as they wish, morally or legally justified..or not.

  17. Sue in soCal says:

    What the ACLU and most of the public do not know is that the NSA is already collecting all data and contents of phone calls and emails and they are storing this data in a huge new facility in Utah. http://www.foxnews.com/tech/2013/06/13/what-we3-know-utah-nsa-mega-data-warehouse/
    How do I know this? I grew up in the defense industry and am still connected. What they were able to find out before all this technology was enough to give you pause. Now it’s an information freeway with no speed limits for the NSA.

  18. StWinefride says:

    But Father! We have God – “they” ought to be afraid of us Christians!!

    And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father’s will. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. So every one who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in Heaven; but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in Heaven”. Matthew 10:28-33

  19. Bea says:

    I voted
    “I believe, but I don’t care.”
    Reason is: I’ve got nothing to hide and it will all be revealed in the final judgement anyway.
    I’ve always had this sense of someone looking over my shoulder, but I assumed it was God Himself, “watching my every move” (from the song “private eyes”)
    We should be keeping this kind of watch over ourselves , anyway, if we want to keep on the straight and narrow and grow in holiness.

    If we’re afraid of POTUS and the ACLU knowing what we’re doing, we should be more afraid of GOD knowing what we’re doing.

  20. mike cliffson says:

    None of the above.
    1984 was written in 1948, a touch before my birth, and it was the sort of idea I was brought up on technology just makes it easier and less labour intensive.Fr Z is right to tie it up to the last things , but as for this world, if any one wants to lie hard to get you, they can and will, and the lord is our only protection. If they thus treated the master , what can the followers expect – feather beds? The penny catechism, and Catholic education for worldly suufering went out of date or out of use? Creation and life in this transient world ARE marvellous, but this aint never no vale of tears? The sort of martydom and persecution Christians get varies – anyone trade for Christians in China? Egypt? Sudan? Iraq? etc? Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and all the rest will be given unto you. Try to chuck the Lord out, sooner or later you’ll get Big Brother. Same old,so we forget same good news, ever new, ever fresh.

  21. Gail F says:

    A guest editorial in our local paper this week, written by someone from a local educational foundation, was enthusiastic about how much data is being gathered on elementary school students (though vague on what the data was for and how it will help). The new Common Core standards require that all student data, not just test scores, be collected in national databases, which are being set up by independent firms because we have laws against the federal government doing it. I heard a business consultant on the radio Sunday saying that his company embeds chips in employee ID cards that collect information on the employees’ conversations — not the content, but the number and length of conversations, the type of emotional responses they generate, and how “successful” conversations are so that they can help employers ensure that their employees converse in the most efficient and successful (for the company) way possible. These cards already track where employees are at all times. Talk about CREEPY.

  22. future_sister says:

    Eh, I am mildly concerned, but mostly about who I was before I was Catholic being used against me… I picked going off the grid for the sole reason that I am called to cloistered life, so no electronics for me when I enter. As it is most of the time I don’t carry my cell-phone, I don’t have a credit card, I don’t have a drivers license so hence no car, and my computer is off except to read Catholic blogs and buying parts to make rosaries. If the police really want to hunt me down they’ll find me at Mass, in an adoration chapel, or in my room reading something Catholic (lately the Summa Theologica). I can honestly hope and pray that if it becomes illegal to be Catholic that I am found guilty. I prefer snail mail to email, and enjoy the weird looks I get at the mail room when my mail is from a monastery, especially my one friend who writes his name in Latin 9 times out of 10. Honestly if it weren’t for the fact that I have homework I need to submit on the computer I would be perfectly fine not having one, and I may just switch to only library computers when I get back to school. Oh the weird one, no matter how often I switch them off the wifi and location on my phone keep turning themselves back on… next phone upgrade I’m going back to a “dumb” phone.

  23. Johnno says:

    Our Credit Cards all have RFID chips in them. They can track you if they so choose to in the future.

    The entire point being isn’t that evidence can be fabricated against you, so much so that the definition of ‘terrorist’ can be legally changed to include ‘Catholic.’ So if you believe you’re a person who has nothing to worry about because you “aren’t doing anything wrong.” That’s just a court’s interpretation away from throwing you in the slammer for life.

    And the existence of such systems is more psychological warfare than actual practicality. None of any of these surveillance systems will be used to stop crime or terrorism. It’s mainly after the fact uses. And given that we have strong implications that the US and the UK are involved in their own false flag terrorism to get the right results they expect from its citizens, this just makes it all the more effective.

    You are all slaves to the pharaoh and he’s not about to let you go off on any holiday to worship any God other than what he approves.

    Your choices are:
    a ) Go to your deaths and face persecution like lambs.
    b) Attempt to fight back through violent revolt. The longer you wait the less of a chance you have to win, not that your chances are god to begin with.
    c) Depend solely on God to save you through miraculous means.

    A miracle might be waiting in the wings. Our Lady of Fatima warned us all that the world was to become this way if we did not Consecrate Russia. Our Lord is still waiting for His Church to obey Him. But I guess Vatican II and ecumenism is more important…

  24. SKAY says:

    A friend of mine has been having problems with her phone turning on and -at least once- calling someone else — while it was in her coat pocket that she had taken off. I know because I was the person receiving the call and heard her talking to other people –so I tried to get her attention by yelling her name loudly with no luck. Finally I just hung up because she could not hear me. She was shocked when I told her because she knew where her phone was at that time and she could not have accidently turned it on. We both decided it was just her phone and that she needed to get a different phone. That is probably still the case but it certainly seems there are other possibilities.

  25. Sam says:

    Creepy, I pulled up this story for the first time and in the poll “I am so angry and afraid of this, that I plan on going off the grid” was already selected for me.

  26. future_sister says:

    People mentioning the crazy phone stuff reminds me of an incident at FOCUS national conference. I had my phone on silent but since I was going to confession I turned it off and put it in my backpack so I would have no problems. I was trying to focus on prayer and my examination of conscience when all of a sudden my phone was ringing!!! on full volume! I turned it off without looking at it and it happened again! Finally after about 3 times I had to turn it off, pull out the battery, put it back in my backpack, and throw my backpack on the other side of the hall so that there was no one around it. It was downright creepy. For some reason my phone ONLY turns itself on in a church or a church function…

    but of course when there is a family emergency and my parents try calling me my phone doesn’t ring, shows no missed calls and no new voice-mails…

  27. SimonDodd says:

    I am generally sanguine about technology and the police when the former simply permits the latter to do what they have already done. The police can follow you on the street, and it doesn’t seem to me to matter terribly much whether they do so by foot, car, helicopter, or security camera. What’s different? Is this program different because it’s not in realtime? Why does that matter?

  28. dominic1955 says:

    I surprised at all the pseudo-Quietism being bantered around here. Really? Like St. Augustine (supposedly) said, pray as if everything depended on God and work as if everything depended on you.

    “I partially agree with your concerns; it is horrifying to wonder what might have happened had Stasi or the Gestapo had this technology. But I suspect that the parents of kidnapped children would not share your preference for inefficiency, but would rather have the location of every vehicle in the country constantly tracked. Therein lies the difficulty in assessing whether the new world is better or worse.”

    Well, that is exactly how they get you. How can you possibly look the parents of a kidnapped child (at whatever other tear-jerker scenario you prefer) and say that your privacy and freedom is more important than little Johnny? This is a false dichotomy. It might be persuasive to today’s emotivist non-thinking types, but history has shown us that if you want to trade liberty for safety you will soon have neither. In the hopes that in some hypothetical scenario sense this new technology might find a kid, you might also be consigning the future to a walk down a brightly lit corridor and a bullet to the head. That’s a pleasant thought, isn’t it?

    As a free man, and one who intends to die free, give me glorious inefficiency and blessed benign neglect! Those who want to bring about a system in which they grovel before their efficient bureaucracies in exchange for their precious little “security” are a pitiable bunch, hardly men.

  29. gracie says:


    Do the plastic license plate covers stay on after your car has gone through a car wash?

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