The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Sunday, December 01, 2002

What could be cooler than building your own rocket to zoom you into space? Brian Walker of Oregon is the man with just such a plan. He's got a homemade rocket that will take him just out of the Earth's atmosphere and into orbit for a brief time, before falling back planetside. More details of his spacequest can be found at his very own aptly-named website.

One thing in the very last paragraph of this article disturbs me a bit:

Walker met with the FAA about his launch license, and before he even contacted them, they already had a large file on him. He says officials there are impressed with his plan.

The fact that the Federal government had already compiled a file on him is just casually mentioned, as though it's nothing noteworthy. Doesn't it warrant some concern that the FAA had this guy under surveillance? Granted, it's their job to keep him and the public safe in case something was amiss, but does this hobbyist action actually call for spying on the guy? They knew pretty quickly that this wasn't some terrorist whacko. That this is brushed off so nonchalantly, as if people should expect the government to keep tabs on people without dissent, bothers me a lot. Erosion of civil liberties and basic freedom starts with tiny steps like this, instead of large, dramatic moves.