Monday, November 12, 2007

Privacy and the Government

I blithely surf the Internet, leaving bits and pieces of my identity here and there. A deputy to the Director of National Intelligence argues that therefore I should be comfortable with a loss of privacy vis a vis the government. I've some sympathy with the argument, but I disagree. Though I personally may be comfortable with trusting the government, most people aren't, so our systems need to recognize that.

I've no problem with the government gathering gobs of data to do their work. But many times the data doesn't have to be tied back to an individual. So the first rule is collect the data but lose the individual. In some cases you need the individual. The second rule should be, when the individual is tied to data, you log accesses and make the log available to the individual. In other words, I should be able to call up, via internet, the job description of any government employee who looks at my tax information, my health data, even my name and address.

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