Posted by: Leroy
Frequently, there are articles posted such as the one below in regard to government entities, whether it be at the local, state, or federal level, collecting our personal data without our approval or otherwise without much public debate:
First, this shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. In the book titled “Schneier on Security”, the author Bruce Schneier has a whole chapter on just this very topic. He goes on to note that the NSA can eavesdrop on every phone call and that many airports collect the license plates of every car in their parking lot in order to be able to track suspicious vehicles. He mentions many more instances in which our personal data is collected and mined in order to be able to track and/or identify criminals and terrorists or used for marketing purposes and provide more directed advertisements at the end user. The point being, our data is collected in so many ways, many times without public debate and or evaluating privacy/security concerns of doing so. This is not being done just at the government level, but the private sector is just as bad if not worse. At this point, our data has been collected in so many ways and is stored in so many different locations, that one semi-new way of collecting data which has already been collected, probably doesn’t matter that much.
I am not saying that there shouldn’t be some measures put in place to ensure this data is secure and that privacy concerns are vetted, as certainly there should be. What I am saying, is that the fact that they are collecting the data and the manner in which they are collecting it, isn’t much of a new concern. In my opinion, at least the government probably (emphasis on probably) knows how this information is stored, transmitted, or processed which is the first step in protecting the information. I am more concerned about the personal information which is stored, transmitted, and/or processed that the government has no idea about.
What I find extremely entertaining is the manner in which people will be so willing give up their personal information to social media sites such as Facebook without even so much as a blink of an eye. Most people never ever consider the security and or privacy concerns of doing so but simply do it, because by not doing so, it is impossible to partake in Funbook (aka Facebook). They even go as far as to identify where they are located at any point in time. It’s so easy to give away information when it is at the convenience of the end user or when by not doing so impedes on the end users’ ability to have fun. These same people are the ones that get upset over the above article and how outrageous it is that the government is collecting our information with our knowledge and may not be protecting it appropriately. At least in the above method of collecting our information, the government is trying to use it for good. This is not to say that it is an effective method, as I would need to do much more research as to how this information is collected and used, but at least, the intent as to why it is collected seems to be solid.
To summarize, I strongly believe in a comprehensive privacy regulation which governs the way in which our information is collected and secured. Furthermore, I believe more oversight is needed in regard to this information which comes by the way of an unbiased third party. All I am saying is, let’s not get all crazy about a new way of government collecting our information as the information is already out there. (Honestly, this is not even really that new of a way of collecting information as Brue Schneier mentions this same technology in his book which was published in 2008) State BMVs already have this information, insurance agencies potentially could have all this information, local and state court systems could have all this information. So the information is out there. In most cases where this information is located, we have no idea how it is being secured and/or how the company is adhering to any of the common privacy principles. When it comes to these types of debates, it shouldn’t be so much how the information is collected and/or protected, but rather why and the effectiveness of the process which requires the collection of this information.