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Sapere aude - dare to be wise
Thursday, October 23, 2003
Posted 5:20 PM by Kevin
I'm going to make an attempt to recover a modicum of respectability after yesterday's rant with this neat discussion on the bastard children of the deceased Total Information Awareness scheme.

In case you've never heard of it, basically, it was an anti-terror surveillance plan that involved powerful database and information-gathering tools. It was supposed to help law enforcement red flag potential terrorist activity by combing through various computerized credit, air travel, medical, and other sorts of records of Americans (and possibly non-Americans). Did it work? Well, we won't know because the Pentagon pulled the plug on it last September. Now, however, it appears that some of the tools developed under TIA's auspices have survived to potentially fulfill the dreams of some in the government.

Personally, I'm of two minds on the issue. I do have 1984-ish fears about the government knowing more about me than I'd care to share. Since the Patriot Act's passing, its provisions have been used in non-terror-related matters, and I do fear that such is likely in a TIA scenario. Though I'm interested in working for the government, someday, I'm suspicious of such a massive consolidation of power and access.

Still... still, I'm stuck with a nagging, NIMBY-inspired question: what could the government possibly do to harm me even if they knew every detail about my life? Even the most scandalous item they could catalogue (my fetish for brunettes, perhaps?) could never serve to incriminate me. Maybe I'm being anti-post-modern here, but I can't conceive of what the government would even do with perfect information regarding myself and most of the people that I know.

A legal treatise, this is not, and you'll excuse my lack of intellectual vigor (it's been a long week), but the issue of whether or not it would be a good to have such schemes will be with us for a long time to come. I suppose we'd better get used to discussing it.

As seen in the
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