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BW Online | Privacy Progress at Homeland Security
Topic: Civil Liberties 10:46 pm EST, Jan  8, 2004

At the crux of all the unease (and rage in some cases) expressed by us "civil libertarians" at Patriot I(I)+, is the perception of no safeguards, protection, or review. On a bad day when someone such as myself spins into a rant, it is the worst case scenario firmly in our focus. It is important to remember, that at the very least the people on the other end of the bargain want to get it right. Really.

When taking in recent events, all we seem to be seeing is what the government needs from us. We know the powers that the intelligence agencies require to do their work. They have made it happen. Good for them, I guess. I do expect them to be aggressive in defending the place..

There is something more noble to the act of complaining if its constructive. We have till somewhere late 2005'ish to come up with serious answers as to how we _want_ these powers to work. This is the type of stuff I want to see way more of.. Wether we like it or not, we are going to have to deal with way more elements of our society being transparent, just because information spreads around easier. Records stick, they are searchable, and relational. Information wants to be all kinds of things, free just being one of them. The effects of it all are only going to increase, and we best not be cocky and think we fully understand it now.

If we only focus a fight on keeping this type of record collection and mining from happening at all, we will only create a leadership vacuum. These various types of tracking and database mining efforts are not going to stop because we would rather things slow down a little while while we catch our breath. Answers are what are necessary, and we need to help come up with them too.

As one of the town criers, I propose we make a point of trying to focus more on what type of rules we want for how these various databases being created will be overseen. I don't think the average joe is going to be that helpful in keeping the bad laws from getting in, because as demonstrated recently we don't pick up on these things.. They happen, we have chances to see them, but can miss it, and regardless we don't seem to have the power to stop shit when we do see it coming. What needs to be done is to create the right answers, not just try to stop the ones we don't condone.

Anyway, here is BusinessWeek chiming in with a glimer of hope, and a show of progress amid one off the more contraversal issues of late: the fingerprinting of foreign visitors.

] Yet, hardly a peep has been made about privacy. For
] once. On the day U.S. VISIT launched, Homeland
] Security's Privacy Office unveiled a Privacy Impact
] Assessment, or PIA, which outlines the program's privacy
] policy and a clear map of how data will flow from
] department to department and how it will be shared,
] accessed, and stored. The Privacy Office is also soliciting
] comments on the policy and requesting advice on what
] should be taken into account as the department weighs
] new technology purchases.

] It seems Homeland Security is beginning to understand
] that privacy matters. "We know a lot more information
] about this program than most government initiatives. It's
] a really positive sign," says Ari Schwartz, associate
] director of Washington (D.C.)-based civil liberties
] advocacy group the Center for Democracy & Technology.

] The PIA maps the data flow. For example, digital
] fingerprints and photos will be fed, along with commercial
] -carrier information, into the Arrival & Departure
] Information System (ADIS) and cross-referenced with the
] Student & Exchange Visitor Information Service (SEVIS).
] The PIA also addresses the five fundamental rules of data
] protection: Who has access to the data? What security
] procedures are in place? How and with whom will the
] information be shared? How long will data be retained?
] What is the process of redress if errors are discovered?

So, that's all pretty good stuff. Um, However.. I can't seem to Google this PIM paper. I probably wouldn't wind up reading it tonight, but I'd meme it.. :)

] "They're up-front about the fact that these inconsistencies
] and errors could result in a heightened degree of risk....
] But all they tell you is that this problem will be mitigated
] by the fact there's a privacy officer. I want to know what
] they're going to do about it," says Hoffman.

I myself prefer/try/would like to believe that because so many people with so much energy are genuinely concerned about these matters, that liberty will prevail through the challenge. Liberty, however, needs a better offense at this point in time.

Music: Bad Religion

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