[LINK] (fwd) Privacy vs Surveillance
Fri, 28 Sep 2001 15:23:40 +1000 (EST)
September 27, 2001
In the Next Chapter, Is Technology an Ally?
By KATIE HAFNER
Lawrence Lessig, a professor at Stanford Law School;
Dr. Neumann, a computer scientist at SRI International;
Whitfield Diffie, the inventor of public key cryptography;
Q. What role will technological innovation play in responding to terrorism?
Lessig: These attacks could spur a great deal of technological
innovation. The hard question is whether the innovation will be tailored
to protect privacy as well as support legitimate state interests
in surveillance and control. We as a culture think too crudely about
technologies for surveillance. The conflict is always framed as some grand
either/or. But if we kept pressure on the innovators and, in particular,
the government, to develop technologies that did both, we could preserve
important aspects of our freedom, while responding to the real threats
presented by the attacks.
Neumann: The most elaborate technological measures are likely to be
inadequate, misused and subverted. Surveillance is all too easily
misused. Trapdoors in cryptography to facilitate law enforcement
can be misused. Existing system security is seriously flawed. As a
result, we must avoid expecting technological security measures to be
adequate in protecting privacy. So, ultimately, we have a double-edged
sword. Techniques to protect can be used to subvert, attack or otherwise
compromise human rights, nation states and organizations. The problems
are inherently human, and technology can be used for good or bad.
Diffie: In my view the natural trade-off is a broad public right to
inquire (i.e., listen to the radio, point infrared sensors around, make
video recordings, analyze the data from the sensors with computers,
etc.) and the right of the individual to employ protection from
surveillance (cryptography, insulated walls, wearing a mask, using
pseudonyms, etc.). This presumes a commercial right to make and sell
products that support the individual's desire for privacy.
I read in the documents of the revolutionary era a recognition of a
broad right of the individual to act on self-perceived interest and
generally not to be required to cooperate with someone else's view of
those interests. This seems to me roughly what freedom means.