Sunday, April 19, 2009
Technology: A curse to privacy.
This topic come about from the long and ardous discussion I have with an American friend - yes, the angry one, hahaha!. As most other Americans, he relentlessly talked about Obama's adoption to Bush position on warrantless wiretapping and secrecy. But I would rather he write about it in his blog.(AA, are you listening?)
I agree with him that privacy is central to human dignity and liberty. We all need a retreat from public view. We need a secluded area in which to ventilate our hopes and fears, our loves and hates. In short, we all need an opportunity to "let our hair down", to be ourselves.
So, how free would any of us be or feel if our homes could be readily invaded, our letters readily inspected, and our conversations readily monitored?
In this modern times however, keeping our affairs private is constantly eroded. Electronic bugs have advanced to the point where they can overhear conversations anywhere and everywhere. They can spy on us in our board rooms, union halls, dining rooms, parlours, and even in our bedrooms.
It is therefore important that democratic society reconcile the protection of privacy with the needs of law enforcement. But, like other fundamental freedoms, privacy cannot be absolute and unlimited. Some limitations under some circumstances are necessary and inevitable.
Police theorized that eavesdropping is necessary to spy on terrorist. So the difficult question is how much should be permitted? Under what kind of safeguards? To serve what law enforcement purposes?
What measures, then, would be appropriate to deal with such potentially pervasive invasions of privacy? How can we most reasonably balance the competing claims of law enforcement and personal privacy in an age of such technological sophistication?
Oh, the computer! Yes, computers are now being employed to record information relating to millions of people on a wide variety of matters - health, employment, intelligence, aptitudes, credit, reliability emotional disposition, personal habits etc. Initially collected by governments, schools, employers, credit agencies, insurance companies, etc., much of this material is now co-ordinated and stored in the powerful memory banks of modern computers.
In less than a second, these machines can make co-ordinated information available and usable. Access to the computer's memory bank can give access to substantial information on countless numbers of people.
Now, how can we evaluate the competing claims of information collection and personal privacy? How can we prevent the information from being used for any purpose but that for which it was originally collected?
On what basis and in what ways can we limit access to the computer's memory banks?
No wonder that life is simpler then...