Sunday, February 26, 2006

Our right to privacy, killed by the Bush administration? Or was it inevitable?

It's easy to lay the blame for loss of privacy on the Bush Administration. It is while the Bush Administration was in power when massive privacy invasion by the government was disclosed. While I'm quick to lay blame on the Bush Administration, in this case there's a heavy dose of inevitablity.

Let's consider these articles which make an interesting juxtaposition.

No longer can the right of privacy be expected in any walk of life -- an editorial in a local newspaper in Hagerstown Maryland.

Invasion of privacy must stop -- An editorial in a local newspaper in India

Taking Spying to Higher Level, Agencies Look for More Ways to Mine Data - A New York Times article by John Markoff

The first two take the opinion that we have a "right to privacy". As the Hagerstown editorial mentions, a right to privacy wasn't written into the U.S. Constitution, but that was because the Founders assumed privacy was such an obvious right as "breathing" or "eating" that they didn't bother to discuss it. But little did they have a clue of the sort of technology which would be developed.

The article from India is interesting because of the expression of fear which comes up just with a hint that any of our phone conversations could be tapped.

The NY Times article just demonstrates how the government is continuing to look for more and more surveillance and privacy-destroying tools. It discusses an NSA visit to Silicon Valley looking for data mining tools. Which just makes me think of the Total Information Awareness project.

Data mining is widely used by corporations. For example credit card companies data-mine transactions looking for possibly fraudulent activity. In the article they discuss a prison which used data mining of telephone call records to discover a drug smuggling ring.

The point is technology creates new possibilities. The digitization of "everything" makes privacy invasion so much easier to do. Which gets to the inevitability.

Even if it's inevitable, that doesn't mean "we the people" should just allow it to happen without protest.