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04/07/2005 Archived Entry: "Sheriff uses database"

For those who wonder why privacy advocates remain adamantly opposed to data collecting, there's this story. It opens, "Orange County's sheriff may have broken the law when he used driver's license records to track down a woman who wrote a newspaper to criticize his staff's use of Taser stun guns and described him as too fat for basic police work, critics say. Orange County Sheriff Kevin Beary had his aides use the records to get the address of Alice Gawronski so he could send her a scathing letter, which some say violated federal privacy law." The unblinking response of data advocates will be that the system has checks and balances as evidenced by the invocation of federal law...but that's not the real message and moral. It is: the ones collecting and 'guarding' the data are human beings who will commit the same errors, petty acts, cruel deeds, money-grabs, etc. as the rest of humanity. Probably more so because they are in positions of advantage and power and...what's that saying?...Power corrupts and absolute power makes you a sweet, decent person. Yeah, that's it.

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