In July 2002 one of the earliest books we covert at a Future Salon was David Brin's Transparent Society He has just written the cover story for Salon Magazine [free day-pass] in August of this year: Three cheers for the Surveillance Society!
He makes the case that the surveillance technologies are so plentiful, that it is no use fighting it. It is a tide, that you may slow down, but not stop. What we should focus on is to make sure it goes both ways:
Each time the lesson is the same one: that professionals should attend to their professionalism, or else the citizens and consumers who pay their wages will find out and -- eventually -- hold them accountable.
I am not so sure about this. Take for example Prison Rape. It is a long known fact that these horrors are going on in the prisons on a daily basis. So we have found out about it, but we are not really holding anyone accountable do we?
This one I didn't know and I don't like neighbors spying on each other: Minnesota entrepreneur Larry Colson has developed WebVoter, a program that lets Republican activists in the state report their neighbors' political views into a central database that the Bush-Cheney campaign can use to send them targeted campaign literature.
In the long run, tolerance depends on the ability of any tolerated minority to enforce its right to be left alone. This is achieved assertively, not by hiding. And assertiveness is empowered by knowledge.
In the second world war the Jews in Belgium were very happy about being able to hide because there was no registry of them in comparison to Holland, where such a registry fell in the hands of the Nazis with devastating consequences. It is not a simple problem.
Clearly there must be limits, only how? Will you be better able to protect yourself if these technologies are banned (and thus driven underground) or regulated, with a free market that might offer us all pocket detectors, to catch scanners in the act?
Very thought provoking and in need of a longer debate. This is why I am so looking forward to his presentation at the Accelerating Change Conference (AC2004) happening from the 5th to the 7th of November at Stanford.