Surveillance Nation – Part Two

from the privacy-and-security-aren't-mutually-exclusive dept

Last month we had an article from MIT’s Tech Review talking about how the US was increasingly becoming a surveillance nation where everything anyone did was recorded and stuck in a database somewhere. Now, the authors have come back with part II of their article looking at why a loss of privacy is not inevitable. First off, they point out the difficulty of analyzing data from such incredibly large databases. It’s really not possible these days. So, then, the issue is breaking down the data to reasonable sizes, and that presents a whole list of other problems. There’s also the question of accountability of usage. People are always afraid of this type of data being misused, and without very detailed auditing of who uses the data for what purposes, you can almost guarantee it will be misused – but if there is a clear audit trail, then there could be some protection. They suggest that systems be built that limit what kinds of data can be accessed for what purposes – and a clear audit trail needs to be produced. Of course, right now, it seems that no one is building in these safeguards to the databases currently used for surveillance. Part of the article is trying to draw this issue to people’s attention. The article also discusses the idea that if surveillance is increasing – it needs to be a two way street. Individuals need to be able to watch over those who watch us, and what data they collect to make sure that it isn’t wrong or misleading. Overall, if you follow this field, there’s nothing new or surprising in the article, but it’s a good summary of some important thinking in how to deal with a world where constant surveillance seems inevitable.

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