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You are already a suspect

George Orwell might not have realised that his 1984 is used like a textbook by national security analysts.

David Sklar: “ While the fury over DARPA’s Information Awareness Office is justified, it is incomplete. Other, similar databases exist now and more will undoubtedly be created in the future. In the end, we must figure out how to live with them. ”

An *excellent* blog entry. Lots of links to relevant information.

Already, there is no privacy in this world. Even our mundane activities are recorded in commercial databases. Now the old handlebar mush military types are pushing for saving even more data. All for what? For your own good. That argument is nothing but hypocrisy.

Why is this hypocrisy?

  1. Govt. knows smoking is bad for you. Why aren’t cigarettes banned?
  2. Justice system is supposed to be impartial. Then why is there an outright effort to appoint partisan judges? Always?

I’m now beginning to think that market-driven democracy is not all that good. Why? In soviet-style communism, there was only a finite set of vested interests. In what we have now, we have almost an infinite set of vested interests all feeding upon each other - see how difficult it is to find responsible people in Enron? If you are a common citizen who just wants to have a peaceful and intrusion free life, there is no one to take care of your vested interest!

But isn’t democracy supposed to solve that? Yes, if there is a choice. It doesn’t help if the choice is between bad and worse. In Kerala, my native state in India, there is a supposed to be socialist front and then a communist front. The ruling front alternates after each election. This is a classic example of lack of choice ruining democracy.

Democracy should be multi-faceted. In US, it is market driven. In Kerala, it is ideology driven. In North India, it is now religion driven. The checks and balances will work only if democracy is driven by many things, in equal strength.

Anyway, does Poindexter really believe that a mega-surveillance network will help fighting terrorism? It probably will. My belief is that fighting is the wrong goal - work to prevent terrorism. That will involve diplomacy and tact in foreign policy - not unilateralism and strong arming. When common people - still a majority in the world, but not united - feel that leaders are not paying attention to their complaints, sooner or later they are going to take matters into their own hands. Once that happens, people start grieving about real as well as imaginary problems and then the grief multiplies in an exponential fashion. What Mr.Poindexter suggested is like looking for individual expressions of grief at that late stage. What I’m suggesting is that world leaders address problems of communities in an honest fashion - I know, it is an Utopian dream. I imagine dealing with communities is lot easier and lot less expensive than dealing with problems on an individual basis.

At the moment, my perception of the whole thing is that of a serious effort to resurrect that old dream - classification into rulers and the ruled. Earners and spenders. And a belief that technology can solve all the problems. It might be wise to think that even with all the resources available, it took 3 weeks to capture the Washington area sniper - who is in US, with public records. If that is the case here, how effective is technology going to be in tracking terrorists living in third world countries?