Thursday, July 23, 2009

The end game

Or is it the beginning of the end for personal privacy

No it is the end of any personal privacy

Once an individual has been assigned a unique index number, it is possible to accurately retrieve data across numerous databases and build a picture of that individual's life that was not authorised in the original valid consent for data collection

Often this is done with the best of intentions or so say those who do this

Data-mining techniques across databases are becoming increasingly important and will produce a .new generation of spies.

The ability to conduct intelligence work in a hostile environment behind enemy lines, as in the cold war, will remain an important part of the total picture, but in future a new kind of intelligence agent is needed - an access or mission manager who can access, manipulate and collate the required sets .of information from the most effective set of sources

Those who have the expertise to access the databases and open sources on the internet are those who will be able to find the information needed to track, for example, terrorist groups and their .financing.

But this work must be done within an ethical human rights framework and this is where things break .down.

Recommended guidelines must include

• Sufficient sustainable cause and the scale of potential harm justifies using national intelligence in this way.

• There must be integrity of motive and the advantages sought are justifiable in terms of public good.

• The methods used must be proportionate to the seriousness of the business in hand using only the minimum intrusion into the private affairs of others.

• Proper authority has to be authorised at sufficiently senior level with appropriate oversight.

• There must be a reasonable prospect of success with acceptable levels of the risk of unintended consequences or of political or diplomatic damage if exposed.

• Use of secret intelligence methods must be the last, rather than the first, resort - is the information available from open sources?

Advanced technology now available to the intelligence community is proving particularly valuable in providing early clues to the existence of covert networks.

But the very effectivness of these techniques is already rubbing up against feelings of invasion of individual privacy, and worries over the wider uses to which such information might be put.

It is a significant challenge to ensure that the intelligence community can access the full range of data relating to individuals, their movements and associations in a timely, accurate, proportionate and legal way that is acceptable in a democratic and free society

The Guardian

"In a democratic and free society"

And just where might that be?

Intent is everything
What is the real motive of those mining the data?
Unfortunately as history shows once such tools are more widely available data mining will be abused
Such is the proof of human nature over thousands of years

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