Why Are You Hitting My Fist with Your Face?

Paul Goldstein says that copyright isn’t expanding; that’s just an optical illusion. It’s technology that’s expanding, and that’s just bringing the rest of us into contact with copyright, which is right where it’s always been.

I think there’s a similar debate with regard to the expansion of surveillance powers (at least when that debate happens in public, as with CALEA). One side says that surveillance powers are expanding alarmingly, and the other side says that they’re only keeping pace with technological developments that threaten to outpace surveillance capabilities.

If you focus your attention on limitations of surveillance powers, or on the set of acts that law enforcement can do, then new surveillance powers look more intrusive; if you focus your attention on what individuals can do, you could argue that they have new opportunities to evade surveillance. (You can see this in the drama of Louis Freeh vs. the cypherpunks.)