Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Connect the Dots Surveillance

I have nothing to hide. So I should not fear aggressive data collection and surveillance. Right?

Well if I had reasonable trust that the data would only be used to find real threats, I might be. Or if I had reasonable trust that an abuse of the data would not bankrupt me and send me to jail, I might be.

But I'm not.

Here are the dots.

1. Big Brother gathers the metadata of your communication. Metadata, is the data about your data. So they don't listen to your call, of read your email. The just gather who you are calling, and how often. And they put this data in the database with all the others, and mine it for patterns.

Doing this, Big Brother can create a terrorist communication profile. And just like any other profiling technique, identify likely threats. Then they can get authorization to tap phone and read email.

I think this is a great use of technology.

Is powerful.

And accurate.

2. Everything, and everyone has a profile. Terrorists have a profile. And bankers have a profile. Serial killers have a profile. And soccer moms have a profile. And in order to make a profile to catch the bad guy, you also have to build the profile to identify the good guy.

This means there are profiles for potential republican voters. And democratic voters. And donors. And organizers.

There are profiles for people that are likely to buy a car this year. Or a house. Or a new computer.

All you have to do to find these people, is have enough data. And have the profile to filter out the targets.

3. There is no check on the use of this data. Anyone in power, with the authority to ask, can ask for people that match any profile. There is nothing to stop them. And they don't have to tell anyone they retrieved the list.

If a senator asks for a budget estimate from the CBO, its public record. But if he asks for a list of names of people likely to donate to his competitor in the next election, no one will ever know.

4. It is a fact that the IRS targeted people for audit based on political information. This kind of attack is expensive for those that receive them. And almost impossible to defend against.

There are other ways to damage your political opponents if you can identify them early and silently. Damage those that support them, and you have silenced political opposition.

5. Now ask yourself, "Is there anyone in government, now or in the future that would target me, or people like me, for something that I do or might do, if they had this type of data at their fingertips?"

When you answer "Yes" you have joined the group of people that don't like the NSA surveillance program.

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