Government Doesn't Need To Build A Big Database — They Already Have One

from the so-now-what dept

Declan McCullough’s latest column takes a look at how government entities are making increasing use of private databases to compile information about people. It’s sort of a last laugh at those who fought against John Poindexter and his Total Information Awareness idea. The column itself is really looking at two books, No Place to Hide by Robert O’Harrow and The Digital Person by Dan Solove. Both document how private companies are increasingly building up these huge databases of exactly who you are — and how sometimes these databases are being used for purposes beyond what they were intended for (such as for government snooping). However, McCullough also makes the point that these databases have also been very beneficial for people — and just because they can be misused, we shouldn’t necessarily rush to throw them out. The real trick is coming up with a system that makes them more difficult to abuse, without taking away the benefits. He doesn’t come up with any ideas in the piece, but I’m sure transparent society folks would now like to chime in about how simple this is: just make it so that any individual can see who is accessing his or her information and how they’re using it, and suddenly, with the ability to watch the watchers, many of the problems go away.

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