Wednesday, January 22, 2003

Don't Look Now

Kevin Drum has a good, level-headed post, for anyone remotely interested in contemporary surveillance technology.

In short, there will be hundreds of data points about you that are stored and indexed every hour, and this makes it possible to reconstruct your movements and your actions every single minute of the day, every single day of the year. And remember: this technology is already more advanced than most people realize. It's not science fiction anymore; ubiquitous surveillance is only a few years away.

The general counterargument Kevin's alarm is that if you haven't done anything wrong, then you've no reason to worry about being watched. In the best of worlds, yes, perhaps. But in a world with these jokers running around, a hint of dubiety is not extremism:

Needless to say, this information is of great value to law enforcement — including legitimate counterterrorist programs. But it is something we should fear anyway. Yes, initially it will be used only to target criminal behavior, but it's a certainty that "criminal" will eventually be relaxed to include "suspicious," and then again to include "anti-social" — while corporations will need no reason at all other than the information's sheer commercial value.

As they say, know your enemy.