Mass Surveillance Means Working Harder, Not Smarter

from the making-life-more-difficult dept

For many years we’ve discussed why simply collecting more data for the purposes of surveillance is a bad idea. It means investigators end up wasting a lot more time, rather than focusing in on the real issues. They work harder, not smarter. Over at Wired News, Jennifer Granick is arguing persuasively about recent efforts to automate mass surveillance, and how it will actually make the job of stopping criminals and terrorists more difficult, by simply adding to the load. For proof, just look at new reports from FBI officials saying that the NSA has been dumping so much useless data on them that it’s taken them away from useful investigations. We all want to keep this country safe, but it’s important to realize the unintended consequences of simply adding to the data load, rather than setting up systems to be much smarter.

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Comments on “Mass Surveillance Means Working Harder, Not Smarter”

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? says:

She is 100% right

During a conversaion with a friend of mine who is in the FBI, menitoned that the problem wasn’t that the inforamtion on the 9/11 attacks wasn’t there, it was that there was so much information pooring in, that it was overlooked. That, and while it was stacked up against other potential threats, it wasn’t considered as credable or as likely as some of the other ideas that were being put on the table back then.

Now, the federal security folks are so worried about that happening again, that every threat that comes in is 100% valid until proven not. This is causing an overload in the system as it is.

Tom says:

Re: She is 100% right

You (and your FBI friend) nailed it exactly. Although they may have practiced various terrorism scenarios, nobody in government really believed it would ever happen. As a country, we had the mindset that terrorist activities would never take place on our soil. Bin Laden could have taken out full-page ads in the Wall St Journal, disclosing when, where and how, and we still would have shrugged and said “hit us with your best shot, Osama baby”.

Now, in addition to flooding security agencies with mostly useless data, we continue to focus on the “hijacked airplanes as missles” threat. I guess we’ve forgotten that terrorism depends on surprise and that the next act of terrorism will be targeted at something the terrorist thinks we aren’t paying attention to. They won’t do the hijacked airline trick again. Partly because they know it’s been done recently and partly because they know that an airplane with 200 pissed off Americans aren’t going to sit passively by any more.

Once again, the government is missing the mark and putting the public at risk instead of protecting them like they should.

Howard (user link) says:

Re: Re: The hijacking that ended hijacking

Your second reason for predicting that 9/11-style hijacking won’t be used again is actually the more important of the two. If I find myself on a flight being threatened by a would-be hijacker, I will personally kill the lowlife(s) with whatever means I have at my disposal, or die in the attempt. There is no other morally acceptable alternative; not to kill the lowlife means certain death for me and hundreds of others. Anything less than death (with the possible exception of castration) for the lowlife would encourage others. The hijacker has only two tools: 1) Threat of harm for non-cooperation, and 2) promise of safety for cooperation. Neither of those will ever work again in my lifetime.

Violins, violas, cellos, and accessories

Tim (user link) says:

No Subject Given

This is arguably the best way I’ve thought of so far. In an analogous case here, a speed-camera (boo, hiss) flashed in my face a few months ago for no good reason – arguably making it an UNsafety camera. So I’m quite glad to say that, rather than absorbing the hassle myself, I passed it back on to the police – exchanged an email from which I learned that they’ll recite any old generalised statistic rather than deal with a specific complaint about a specific placing of a given camera.

The sample principle applies: whatever the social oppression, if you don’t like it, waste their bloomin’ time.

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