Re: Transparent Society (WAS: RE: law enforcement for profit)

From: Zero Powers (
Date: Sat May 06 2000 - 14:23:53 MDT

>From: "Billy Brown" <>
>Loosely speaking, the capacity of any society to implement a universal
>surveillance system would be proportional to per capita wealth times
>available technology. Less obviously, the ability of the same society to
>implement security measures is determined by exactly the same equation.
>Security vs. surveillance is an arms race, just like projective penetration
>ability vs. armor stopping power. That isn't obvious, because until
>the natural defenses provided by geography, biology and (most of all) human
>information processing capacity were sufficient to make any attempt at
>universal surveillance a hopeless task. But these limits are fixed, so as
>technology improves they will gradually become insignificant and the arms
>race effect will come to predominate.
>Unless some unforeseen technology emerges to give one side to the that a
>dramatic advantage, surveillance appears to be a typical arms race case.
>Neither "attack" nor "defense" has a large inherent advantage, so the
>will depend on circumstances. Keeping what you do in public a secret will
>almost impossible, but keeping what happens in your house a secret is a
>easier problem. Many of the places people are most interested in keeping
>private (small enclosed spaces, virtual worlds, personal records and online
>activity) are inherently quite easy to defend against surveillance, unless
>you have the government outlaw defensive technologies.
>All in all, I see no reason to predict a big win for either side in this
>struggle based purely on the evolution of technology.

I think some on the list misunderstand how feel about surveillance. I don't
think *absolute* surveillance will be needed for the foreseeable future.
There are some zones of privacy which should always be held inviolable. I
don't believe the government or anyone else has a legitimate interest in
such intimacies as the goings on under your bedsheets or while tending to
your various, er, biological needs.

You recognize that: "Keeping what you do in public a secret will be almost
impossible." That in essence is all I have been saying. The only
surveillance outside of this which I would not have a problem with is that
surveillance which is necessary to keep you from doing me harm with
impunity. For instance, if you are a powerful government official, you
should essentially live in fish bowl. Virtually all your communications
should be a matter of public record. Similarly, if you happen to have
possession of a "near-anything" device which you could use to turn my
neighborhood into gray goo, I believe there should be some means of
determing exactly what you do with it, even if you only use it in the
privacy of your home.

There's no need to worry. If I'm in charge, your bedrooms are still safe.


"I like dreams of the future better than the history of the past"
--Thomas Jefferson

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