I’ve been watching The Wire (currently halfway through season 3) and the thing that I’ve been thinking about most is how amazing it is that the police department gets the amount of information they do. In this way, the show seems a lot more accurate than the other cop dramas on TV which go around finding clues on their own (I assume at least). Basically, these cops just walk into a bunch of places (stores, phone companies, etc.) and ask for info on people. If any of these spots were to turn them down (which, to my knowledge, they’re fully in their right to do) they’d be shit out of luck.
Now it’s easy to find this valuable on the show where they’re using the information to bust drug dealers and the such, but it’s also quite frightening to imagine it happening to you or I. If we were suspected of something how quickly would the services we trust (phone company, email provider, etc.) turn over all their records. I know there was a hubub about this a few years ago with Yahoo!/Google, but I guess I never thought of it in these terms.