Re: Time to grow up and why Less is More
The question is not whether we should allow a democratically elected (sort of) government to freely slurp up all available data on it's citizens.
The government will slurp up that data, as long as it can afford to and citizens allow it. If it is done legitimately, for valid reasons and intelligent, democratically legislated safeguards are in place (as opposed to secret courts and gag orders) then why not?
Why can't we do it that way?
Because there are quite a few things missing from the equation.
What will government agencies do with this data?
How much will it cost the economy to collect and store this data?
How long will it be stored?
Who will pay for it?
Who will have access to this data?
Who can see what data has been collected?
Who can change the data when it is incorrect?
What safeguards will exist to ensure the data will not be used illegally or abusively?
What recourse exists when the collected data has been used abusively or illegally?
Quid pro bono?
Google slurps up our data to send us targeted advertising,
Most of us can accept that.
But, if you need:
a driver's license,
a plane ticket,
a credit card,
a bank account ,
access to the court system,
a liquor or business license,
to build or buy a house,
to buy a car.
to drive or park your car
you will eventually interface with some government entity.
Many of us can accept that as well.
But there are MANY good reasons why public officials should only govern with the consent of the governed.
Governments can fine you, prevent you from travelling, conscript you, start wars, print money, deprive you of your liberty....take you to court...etc.
They also gather revenue, pass laws, spy on other countries, hunt and catch criminals, isolate deviants, identify subversives and dissidents, influence public opinion based on current trend analysis, profile individuals and groups etc.
And this is just the obvious stuff they can do with our data.
I think I'd rather take my chances with the targeted advertising.
Of course, you could stop using google anytime you want or even go off the grid completely, but your life would soon become very complicated.
Hardly an option for most people living in a modern society.
Reasoned debate (and laws) that ensure a civilized amount of data and privacy protection, data isolation, anonymization, limited retention and limits to data access, will provide us with much better protection than ranting on forums (valuable as that is!).
In fact, less. more-restricted, government data gathering should be the goal as it will translate into more individual privacy and freedom. less burning of public money, and more international respect for the US.
Getting people and public officials to debate all of this rationally is the first big challenge. Finding and electing the officials who can even understand these issues is already a challenge.
I am happy that some individuals and organizations are at least defining and confronting the issues.
Strange that major laws had to be broken before such issues could even make it to the public radar.
Personally, I do not like seeing publically elected officials trying to minimize these issues. They should confront them head on and help frame the debate, not ignore it.
Spending more money on security theater is not making us safer, it is making us poorer.
And with 20 % of the US already living under the poverty line, it won't be too long before there are real security problems to worry about.
Living in a relatively free society, we need to debate and define the limits of control we are willing to live with and then vote. Less is more.
Make sensible rules and abide by them. Less is more.
Elect people who can be trusted to apply any such rules fairly and objectively.
And kick them out when they don't.
Less is more.