free html hit counter Govt Panel: Protect Citizen's Privacy | John Battelle's Search Blog

Govt Panel: Protect Citizen's Privacy

By - May 17, 2004

oia2Interesting conclusions by a govt. sponsored panel created as a political bone thrown when the TIA news broke, convened to look into Pentagon and govt. practices.

Excerpts from the NYT coverage:

…The report, expected to be issued in about two weeks, says privacy laws lag far behind advances in information and communications technology….

…”Our nation should use information technology and the power to search digital data to fight terrorism, but should protect privacy while doing so,” it concluded. “In developing and using data mining tools, the government can and must protect privacy.”

Data mining is defined in the report to mean “searches of one or more electronic databases of information concerning U.S. persons, by or on behalf of an agency or employee of the government.”…

….The panel, the Technology and Privacy Advisory Committee, said the Pentagon program (the TIA) was “not the tip of the iceberg, but rather one small specimen in a sea of icebergs.”…

…One of the panel’s most important recommendations is to involve the courts in deciding when the government can search electronic databases….

..”Government access to personal data can threaten individual liberty and invade constitutionally protected informational privacy rights,” the panel said, and these risks will grow as the government amasses data on United States citizens who have done nothing to warrant suspicion….

…The greatest risk of data mining by the government is that it “chills individual behavior,” so people become more likely to follow social norms and less likely to dissent, the panel said. The report traces the tension between security and liberty to the earliest days of the Republic. “Those who trade liberty for safety all too often achieve neither,” it says, echoing Benjamin Franklin….

Mr. Rumsfeld appointed the panel in February 2003 to quell a political uproar over the Pentagon data mining program, headed by John M. Poindexter, a retired rear admiral. Congress cut off money for the program in September 2003, with certain exceptions described in a “classified annex” to the 2004 military spending law.

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