Remember when we talked about the importance of privacy waaaaaay back in August? An article over at Wired Blogs reminded me of that little chat tonight:
I think it’s reasonable to say we all conduct our lives with a certain expectation of privacy… When we’re on the phone, we expect we’re only on the phone with the person on the other end of the line. When we surf the web, we expect our travels are nobody’s business but ours. When we shop at Amazon, or swipe our credit card at the local Blockbuster, we expect the only place those transactions are going are to our bank. As it turns out, those expectations might be a little misplaced:
“This [information] could sit there for ten years and then potentially it marries up with something else and ten years from now they get put on a no-fly list and they, of course, won’t have a clue why,” Tice said.
In most cases, the person would have no discernible link to terrorist organizations that would justify the initial data mining or their inclusion in the database.
“This is garnered from algorithms that have been put together to try to just dream-up scenarios that might be information that is associated with how a terrorist could operate,” Tice said. “And once that information gets to the NSA, and they start to put it through the filters there . . . and they start looking for word-recognition, if someone just talked about the daily news and mentioned something about the Middle East they could easily be brought to the forefront of having that little flag put by their name that says ‘potential terrorist’.”
I’m not about to go cut up my credit cards, smash my cell phone or throw my Thruway E-Z Pass into the briny depths of the Genesee anytime soon. But news like this should make us all think a bit about the kind of digital signature we leave behind, and explore ways we can enhance our privacy without compromising the connected lives we so often take for granted.