Chattering in the Noise

The civil liberties implications of US National Security Agency collecting phone records of its citizens is messy enough. The looming prospect of a $200 billion class action lawsuit on the phone companies Verizon and BellSouth means more shit for the fan.

In this age of surveillance, personal privacy which is a basic human right is now a service which will have to be paid for. Bruce Schneier, reporter on Internet security issues writes on Wired about the Eternal Value of Privacy:

Cardinal Richelieu understood the value of surveillance when he famously said, “If one would give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest man, I would find something in them to have him hanged.” Watch someone long enough, and you’ll find something to arrest — or just blackmail — with. Privacy is important because without it, surveillance information will be abused: to peep, to sell to marketers and to spy on political enemies — whoever they happen to be at the time.

Many believe that data mining will be the killer app for identifying latent terrorists and budding terrorist plots. It does have its uses, especially in tackling credit card fraud. But its track record on identifying terrorists has been dismal. So why are policy makers so intent on trawling for the data of private citizens when it is known how expensive, resource-heavy and error-prone, not to mention ethically incorrect it is? Bruce Schneier again on the failure of data mining:

The promise of data mining is compelling, and convinces many. But it’s wrong. We’re not going to find terrorist plots through systems like this, and we’re going to waste valuable resources chasing down false alarms.

47 Responses to “Chattering in the Noise”

  1. sonia Says:

    you mean bruce schneier..:-) sorry for being pedantic! he’s written a great book - applied cryptography..

  2. Sid D H Arthur Says: