Comments: Call Me Cynical

This raises other questions: all that information is out there, and available to government investigators with a little legal justification and legwork. Why is it different to have the information centralized and integrated? Should a warrant be required for investigators to use the data? Will meaningful profiles help prevent or solve crimes, or will our mania for preventive caution result in more of the half-witted stereotyping that already goes on?

And you're absolutely right about the importance of engagement, instead of delegation.

Posted by Jonathan Dresner at April 26, 2004 03:51 PM

Drat. I've been brooding over your comment and I don't have a good response.

I guess the answer is that I don't mind the grocery store knowing how much brie I buy, and I don't mind the bookstore knowing I bought an introductory book on Bordeaux, and I don't mind Orbitz knowing I bought a ticket to Washington...but I don't want the government putting those facts together with my application for a passport and labelling me a surrender-monkey loving, anti-American agitator if my face shows up in the background of an anti-war march past the French Embassy. :)

Or, at the very least, I want them to have to work for it. I don't want some poorly written computer program spitting out my name along with the names of five thousand other innocent people and labelling us potential terrorists just because we coincidentally fit a pattern. If you make labelling people as terrorists easy (and without consequences, under a government with the power to hold people incommunicado for years on end), then more people will be labelled terrorists "just on the off chance." It's's like "guilty until proven innocent" which pretty much strikes me as what the government's policy in Guantanamo is.

Posted by Anne at April 28, 2004 02:45 PM