May 03, 2006

Senator Patrick Leahy Opens CFP 2006

Senator Patrick Leahy opened the Computers, Freedom and Privacy 2006 conference by pointing to three key trends: a post 9/11 interest in security; a coming digital data micro-monitoring revolution; and a rapid post 9/11 rise of partnerships between government and private data collectors, and outsourcing of data collection and management.

He said there has been a blurring of lines of privacy protection. Private data agencies are becoming akin to mini CIAs. We face many risks, but we have to get the balance between security and privacy right. The public doesn?t want false assurances or to be unduly alarmed. We want to actually be safer, and we have a long way to go to accomplish that. New technologies shape the way we understand privacy. There have to be checks. Modern databases, networks are the defining challenge for privacy.

We are on the verge of a revolution in micro monitoring that can lead to widespread surveillance of our daily lives. Governments are increasingly using techology to monitor people. Nobody is above the law, you can?t pick and choose. The FBI has infiltrated groups across the country?religious, environmental, etc. Suppose you protest a tax policy, the building of a road, an environmental issue?should your group be infiltrated by your government? In the current environment, the Bill of Rights would not be ratified. Is this what we want to give our children? We should use info-gathering technology to protect ourselves, but there is no blanket right to spy on citizens.

We want to encourage innovation but ensure privacy.

The government is retroactively classifying data. This devotion to secrecy is often to conceal mistakes.

Technology is moving faster than we can predict. If we give up the rights we fought for in the Revolution, the Civil War, and two world wars, what are we going to leave for the next generation.

Posted by Paul at May 3, 2006 06:44 AM