Cheat-Seeking Missles

Friday, November 03, 2006

Why We Need Fewer Expert Professors

From the left-wing Guardian's special report on human rights in the UK:
The internet will hold so much digital data in five years that it will be possible to find out what an individual was doing at a specific time and place, an expert said yesterday.

Nigel Gilbert, a professor heading a Royal Academy of Engineering study into surveillance, said people would be able to sit down and type into Google "what was a particular individual doing at 2.30 yesterday and would get an answer".

The answer would come from a range of data, for instance video recordings or databanks which store readings from electronic chips. Such chips embedded in people's clothes could track their movements. He told a privacy conference the internet would be capable of holding huge amounts of data very cheaply and patterns of information could be extracted very quickly. "Everything can be recorded for ever," he said.

Gilbert succeeds in defining "expert professor" as "panic monger." He's on the payroll of a "privacy watchdog" with an anti-surveillance agenda, but because he's a professor, his paranoid fantasies get published ... in the Guardian, anyway.

There's one big problem with Gilbert's delusion: People would have to accept having tracking chips sewn into their clothes. If the chips were to be installed in secret, an elected, democratic government would have approve the expense of doing it.

What the "privacy watchdog," UK Information Commissioner Richard Thomas, is scared about is the old ACLU freak-out: That some people, like terror suspects and convicted child molestors, may be "chipped" without their knowledge, or forced to wear chips so they can be tracked.

I'm all for that, and I don't need an expert professor to tell me otherwise.

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