Monday, June 10, 2013

Privacy and Geographic Data

As most of us are aware, over the past week a firestorm of controversy has erupted on the backside of allegations the U.S. government has put in place a "big data" system to harvest and store personal data collected from a variety of sources that includes emails, phone calls, and other forms of electronic communication (PRISM). The reaction on both ends of the political spectrum has been largely the same - stunned and angry. Sadly, it's behavior indicative of a population that has been lulled asleep by The Kardashians, HD sports, and the latest high tech gadget. Reality is - there have been more than enough clues in the popular press since 9/11 that anyone paying attention should have had an inkling where things were headed without needing to review a Top Secret Power Point. In a war where the enemy is already inside the walls of Fort USA, didn't anyone think:

Apparently not. Instead, the nation now finds itself in a Mell of Hess. A raw, open discussion about privacy rights and technology that is certain to be tainted by a 29-year-old "whistleblower's" serious violations of Federal law. Not to mention it will take place in front of our enemies - individuals who are adept at using the systems being discussed in efforts to bring harm to us all. 

Unfortunately, it's hard to see how anything good is going to come of all this. That's because the same inability to focus on the core issue and resolve it before we got to where we now find ourselves, is certain to permeate the dialogue going forward. Seemingly, two very real issues will square off. On one side it will be about the inherent right to personal privacy in America. On the other, it will be about limited commercial data storage capabilities and the need to forensically understand information flows in order to stop acts of evil. Worthwhile points of discussion, but all the while missing the core issue: This is just the tip of the iceberg of problems that are going to come forward if we don't quickly move to align our nation's laws with the reality of the technology revolution taking place all around us. And nowhere is that more true than with the Geospatial Revolution.      

For readers of this blog, that last thought is the proverbial "beating the dead horse". It's a topic that has been addressed here ad nauseam. So much so, to bring this post to a conclusion, I've decided to offer an opportunity to hear that idea from another source. As such, I now direct your attention to the thoughtful comments of Geoff Zeiss - available using the link below. Taken together with my comments above, I believe they will provide plenty of food for thought as the PRISM issue plays out in the coming months.
(Between the Poles Blog, May 6, 2013)

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