Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Difference engine: The right to be left alone | The Economist

Final paragraphs from a timely privacy reality check

"Yet, in a sense, the issue is not whether to accept some erosion of privacy, so governments may protect their people better from evil-doers. Rather, the issue is whether doing so will actually make their country safer. The question asked repeatedly since the intelligence agencies embarked on their wholesale wiretapping of private citizens is, "does profiling hundreds of millions of good guys help to unmask the few dozen bad guys in their midst?" There is scant evidence that it does.

Many would argue instead that granting the intelligence agencies yet further powers to intercept, collect, decrypt and store still more exabytes of personal data only exacerbates their problem of finding the terrorist needle in the public haystack. The answer, surely, is to rely more on tried and tested methods of criminal investigation and trade-craft. In short, to depend less on computer data and more on real human intelligence. Citizens might then not have to chose between privacy and security. They could, in a very real sense, have both."
Difference engine: The right to be left alone | The Economist
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