Tuesday, March 25, 2003

From Gambling to Homeland Security

Homeland Security panel at PC Forum "The In-Q-Tel representative, Gilman Louie, is talking a good line, arguing that government shouldn't have access to commercial data, that there is no advantage to throwing more and more and more marketing and other commercial data into an already overloaded analyst's queue.

Esther Dyson says that she doesn't believe that the "Chinese walls" that keep the Feds from digging through personal info are really all that effective.

Gilman Louie from In-Q-Tel says that the real problem is local law-enforcement, who use techniques like sorting all records for Arabic last names -- technology makes bad policy worse. Unless we beef up the audit and accountability side of the house, it will get very scary.

I just put my questions to the panel: How can you square investigating everyone with the Constitution? How can an algorithm's oracular pronouncement stand in for due process? Gilman Louie's response was very good. He said that he believed that profiling is the wrong answer to the wrong question, that it should be a tool that's applied after human judgement, not before. He compared profiling to the internment of Japanese-Americans and averred that profiling is a dangerous tool for racial or ideological discrimination."
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