“You’ve probably grasped the basic legalistic drawback to PreCrime methodology. We’re taking in individuals who have broken no law.” — John Anderton, outgoing Precrime Commissioner in Philip K. Dick’s short story, Minority Report
Dick’s world of PreCrime surveillance and detention has been with us – in reality – for quite some time. The only question is, how long a time?
In the recent incident department, the case of the young European tourists tweeted to jail and deportation stands out. Their PreCrime: suspicion of planning to commit crimes. It seems watching the U.S. comedy show The Family Guy, while an enjoyable pastime for visitors Leigh Van Bryan and Emily Bunting, is not a favored pastime for certain government agents.
Those same agents, however, have become enamored of Twitter and other social media. They spent significant time focusing on Van Bryan weeks before his trip from Great Britain when he quoted The Family guy show in a tweet: “3 weeks today, we’re totally in LA p*ssing people off and diggin’ Marilyn Monroe up!” While the President was pushing tourism to the U.S. as a major economic driver, the agents devised plans to look for hidden shovels in the couple’s baggage. The agents didn’t want to hear about it when Van Bryan tried to explain that the word “destroy” in another tweet – “free this week for gossip/prep before I got and destroy America” – was British slang for partying. Both would-be tourists were held in jail cells for 12 hours before being sent home.
In a pervasive surveillance state, everyone is a suspect.