Advancing a Free Society

Databuse and the Mosaic

Monday, April 4, 2011

As part of my blood oath to spend the next few years writing on subjects other than detention, I have just released this paper on the inadequacy of privacy as a conceptual framework for regulating personal digital information. The paper is quite exploratory, and I would be very interested in reader reaction. Here is the Introduction:

The question of privacy lies at, or just beneath, the surface of a huge range of contemporary policy disputes. It binds together the American debates over such disparate issues as counter-terrorism and surveillance, online pornography, abortion, and targeted advertising. It captures something deep that a free society necessarily values in our individual relations with the state, with companies, and with one another. And yet we see a strange frustration emerging in our debates over privacy, one in which we fret simultaneously that we have too much of it and too little. This tendency is most pronounced in the counter-terrorism arena, where we routinely both demand—with no apparent irony—both that authorities do a better job of “connecting the dots” and worry about the privacy impact of data-mining and collection programs designed to connect those dots.

Continue reading Benjamin Wittes at Lawfare