Sunday, February 26, 2006

If a Tree Falls and There's No One But a Microphone?

The NY Times had an article on data mining Taking Spying to Higher Level, Agencies Look for More Ways to Mine Data which includes this quote:
"But by fundamentally changing the nature of surveillance, high-tech data mining raises privacy concerns that are only beginning to be debated widely. That is because to find illicit activities it is necessary to turn loose software sentinels to examine all digital behavior whether it is innocent or not.

'The theory is that the automated tool that is conducting the search is not violating the law,' said Mark D. Rasch, the former head of computer-crime investigations for the Justice Department and now the senior vice president of Solutionary, a computer security company. But 'anytime a tool or a human is looking at the content of your communication, it invades your privacy.'"
If a tool is doing the looking, is that the same as a having a microphone in the famous forest where the tree falls? I disagree. It's when a human eyeball sees the content or a human ear hears it that there may be an invasion of my privacy.


InvestiGator said...

In my 25 years as a law enforcement detective, I have never given a rat's behind about a person's personal conduct while being surveilled, unless it related to the matter being investigated or was an outright criminal violation of a significant nature.

Bill Harshaw said...

What's true for you is true for most people. But there's always the bad egg, or the bad situation--like the stalker who obsesses on someone. And humans are weird--we don't like the idea of people watching us, but we'll do stuff in our cars that we wouldn't do in front of our family.