TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: Police Still Using Matrix-Type Database

Re: Police Still Using Matrix-Type Database
11 Jul 2005 13:03:27 -0700

David Royse wrote:

> TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - When the federal government in April stopped
> funding a database that lets police quickly see public records and
> commercially collected information on Americans, privacy advocates
> celebrated what they saw as a victory against overzealous police in the
> fight against terrorism.

I have mixed feelings about this.

On the one hand, this kind of national hookup can be very useful in
solving dangerous and heinous crimes. We live in a very mobile
society today. It also may be useful to fight potential terrorism.

On the other hand, if misused without good controls, this could be a
nightmare. "Partial matches" are just that. By definition, a great
many people could 'partially match' and thus all considered as
potential suspects, and hauled off the street without warning. If you
by coincidence partially match a wanted fugitive, your life will be

I also want to emphasize my concern about _private_ organizations
collecting all this information and sharing it around, without any
controls whatsoever. We've learned they're sloppy and it gets stolen.
We don't know if the information gets misinterpreted forcing us to pay
much more for a loan or an apartment rental, or even lose a job
because unknown to us there's a black flag in our secret credit

What's more troubling about the invasion of privacy is that the
invaders (government or business) keep it secret and we're not allowed
to even know about it.

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