FC: Weekly column: How will surveillance tech evolve in 10 years?

From: Declan McCullagh (declanat_private)
Date: Mon Jan 06 2003 - 13:39:50 PST

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        George Orwell, here we come
        By Declan McCullagh
        January 6, 2003, 10:58 AM PT
        The biggest problem with criticism of Adm. John Poindexter's massive
        spy proposal is not in the argument over the system being so darn creepy.
        Of course it's creepy. This new federal agency deliberately chose the
        motto "knowledge is power," crafted a logo certain to inspire
        conspiracy theories, and is itching to assemble a detailed
        computerized dossier on every American. And that a figure such as
        Poindexter--disgraced in the Iran-Contra scandal and with a database
        addiction dating back to at least 1987--is running the show is a
        detail worthy of a Jonathan Swift satire.
        No, the biggest problem with the criticism of the Total Information
        Awareness system is that it's too shortsighted. It's focused on what
        the Poindexters of the world can do with current database and
        information-mining technology. That includes weaving together strands
        of data from various sources--such as travel, credit card, bank,
        electronic toll and driver's license databases--with the stated
        purpose of identifying terrorists before they strike.
        But what could Poindexter and the Bush administration devise in five
        or 10 years, if they had the money, the power and the will?
        That's the real question, and therein lies the true threat. Even if
        all of our current elected representatives, appointed officials and
        unappointed bureaucrats are entirely trustworthy--and that's a pretty
        big assumption--what could a corrupt FBI, Secret Service or Homeland
        Security police force do with advanced technology by the end of the
        decade? What if there was another terrorist attack that prompted
        Congress to delete whatever remaining privacy laws shield Americans
        from surveillance?
        [... remainder snipped and available at 
    http://news.com.com/2010-1069-979276.html ...]
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