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03/28/2004 Archived Entry: ""

For those interested in a representative sampling of Richard Clarke's "Against All Enemies," Slate provides a decent overview.

Gordon Pusch writes, "Am watching a rather bad movie (and probable series pilot) called _Phantom Force_ on the _SciFi Channel_, about a team of misfits led by a government psychic dealing with 'paranormal threats' (Think _Ghostbusters_ meets _Delta Force_ meets _The Dirty Dozen_). The movie has clearly been filmed in Ontario --- I recognize a lot of Canadian character actors, and Nigel Bennet has a major role. Part of the action is supposed to be taking place in Macedonia, Greece ---which is why I just about died laughing when the NATO commander whips out a road map of Southwestern Ontario, and points straight at Guelph!!!"

Update of news and commentary on privacy...

---the BBC reports on an interesting end run around unreasonable search and seizure, "A 7ft-tall X-ray machine was used for the first time by police who arrested 35 people during a raid on two pubs in north-west London....Supt Malcolm Baker, involved in the use of the X-ray scanner, said: 'It has the ability to see through their clothing and produce an image of anything they have hidden under their clothing or in their pockets'." Those arrested were charged with possession of drugs and/or weapons. According to police, they volunteered to be X-rayed. What are the odds?
---the RFID Journal advises, "Tapemark...says it will use a new technology, called Chipless ID, to embed RFID transponders into packaging, paper or film. Invisible to the eye, each transponder emits a unique signal that cannot be forged, making the technology particularly suitable for authentication, anticounterfeiting and security applications." The chipless RFID could be invisibly integrated into dollar bills and, so, make a governmental wetdream come true: the tracking of every single dollar to make sure the feds get their cut. No wonder Senator Patrick Leahy, D-Vt. has suggested that use of RFID technology "may need to be regulated at the federal level." For privacy concerns, of course. Not social control. Not law enforcement. Not the tracking of currency.
---meanwhile, InformationWeek reports, "RFID isn't just for billion-dollar companies; smaller businesses are trying to gain competitive advantages with technology deployments." Look to businesses to request legislation that promotes and protects RFID use. Your privacy is not to their advantage and I lost my Randian kneejerk respect for businessmen long ago.
---update on airports...The Washington Times states that major US airports are considering "the option of using private companies beginning Nov. 19 if they can demonstrate security would not diminish." The first question that occurs to me: would these private citizens have the same right to fine me for my attitude as the government security officers currently do? Again from the Washington Times, "A fine of up to $1,500 can be levied (after the fact, of course) against an air traveler for something called nonphysical interference with screening. What is that? Looking at the screener the wrong way? Failing to jump high enough when told to jump? Or maybe, just maybe, 'nonphysical interference with screening' consists of a bad 'attitude'; perhaps failing to greet a screener with appropriate deference or subservience as she arbitrarily forces you to disrobe publicly or submit to an additional, 'random' inspection? No kidding. The TSA is asserting the right and the power to fine you, a law-abiding American citizen or lawful visitor to this great land, simply because its employees don't like your attitude.' One of eight 'aggravating factors' listed in the new Guidelines is the 'attitude of violator'." How does my neighbor properly acquire this power over me?
---Airports are also poised to institute the much-discussed trusted-traveler card in order to speed up waiting in clogged security-check lines. According to Wired, "While civil liberties groups have questioned the plan's merits, travel industry groups have welcomed it." Again, business joins hands with government to violate your privacy and rights. One of the reasons the travel industry welcomes the card is because it accomplishes much the same goal as CAPPS without the controversy caused by the legislation. If the card is successful with business travellers, I suspect it will become a required piece of identification for anyone wishing to board a plane in the US within five years. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is trying to make end-runs around the "privacy problem." For example, Wired reports that the TSA has appointed "a vocal critic of its privacy practices to write its privacy policies, perhaps in a move to placate congressional critics and privacy advocates. Lisa Dean, who has worked as the Washington policy liaison for the Electronic Frontier Foundation since June 2003, is scheduled to start as the chief privacy officer of the TSA ..." I think we can expect a great level of sophistication in how plans to violate civil liberties are worded and in the TSA's PR outreach to privacy watchdog groups.
---Computer companies are notorious in their contempt for your privacy rights...as long as there is a profit in violating them, that is. Again from Wired, "Your Privacy vs. Their Profit. Computer spyware is noxious and harmful and must be stopped as soon as people can figure out exactly what it is, members of a Senate subcommittee said." Their solution: federal regulation of the Internet. For privacy concerns, of course. Not social control. Not law enforcement. Not the tracking of purchases for tax purposes.

Sorry to be so negative but I see little to be positive about on the privacy front.

Best to all,

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