So, where I can put the webcams?
Posted by aogSaturday, 17 December 2005 at 14:30 TrackBack Ping URL

Everyone is a twitter about the Patriot Act again, since it’s up for renewal. I’ve said my piece before, which is that it’s not going to make much of a difference either way. The real purpose of the Patriot Act is two fold:

  • To provide our elected representatives the opportunity to look busy instead of doing real work.
  • Empire building by federal buearuocracies.

But there’s another issue that came up for me over at the Brothers Judd. Orrin Judd asks “what have you got to hide?”. I won’t go in to why it should be the government justify why it needs information rather than the citizenry justifying why it shouldn’t. The issue I want to rant about is the extremely leaky nature of the federal government, which leaks both internally and externally.

This is primarily because there really is no downside to such leaks. A private business could easily take a big financial hit or even go bankrupt for that kind of abuse. But not the federal government. And, as far as I can tell, no employee would take a hit either. So why not? There is simply no benefit to do due diligence in either personel or information technologies1. Therefore it’s done in a haphazard, slipshod way.

Moreover, information I provide to private companies is all by choice and activies that are already in a senes public because they involve other, de facto anonymous people. Information obtained by government surveillance is a complete different sort of information.

Finally, even if the information isn’t about illegal acts, there’s still the matter of not wanting to live in a Panopticon. Some things one simply doesn’t want public knowledge, i order to keep a core of self. It’s odd that some who agitate against collectivism don’t see any need for such a final bastion of individuality.

P.S. As noted, I don’t see this as “what will happen if the Patriot Act is passed!!!”. I am objecting in a far more general way to the casual “why the heck not?” attitude of increasing government surveillance of the citizenry.

1 I work with network security and have been involved in that area with some of the big financial companies, so I’ve seen what real due diligence looks like. And not to be cynical, but I don’t think they take security so seriously because they’re just naturally good guys.

Comments — Formatting by Textile
bink Sunday, 18 December 2005 at 15:00

The question about the “leakiness” of the government is highly concerning. What do I have to hide? Probably very little (I realize this is not your question), but the governments job is to protect my privacy, not to hide a bunch of stuff from one of the people who pays for their salaries, ellaborate retirements, and “to protect my privacy!”

But, if the goverment does not need oversight, then we probably don’t need them.

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