Monday, January 14, 2008

US Government to Monitor All of Cyberspace?

For our security of course.

From the Wall Street Journal

Spychief Mike McConnell is drafting a plan to protect America’s cyberspace that will raise privacy issues and make the current debate over surveillance law look like “a walk in the park,” McConnell tells The New Yorker in the issue set to hit newsstands Monday. “This is going to be a goat rope on the Hill. My prediction is that we’re going to screw around with this until something horrendous happens.”

At issue, McConnell acknowledges, is that in order to accomplish his plan, the government must have the ability to read all the information crossing the Internet in the United States in order to protect it from abuse. Congressional aides tell The Journal that they, too, are also anticipating a fight over civil liberties that will rival the battles over the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

Ok, blatantly obvious privacy concerns aside I see this creating a slippery slope. By that I mean how long until this technology goes from being used to protect us from being used to protect us from ourselves? Eventually someone is going to wonder if its possible to use this to protect children by tracking or blocking visitors to kiddie porn sites. Then some administration down the road decides to do the same with sites that depict the denigration of women. Then another decides to do the same with hate speech and another cruelty to animals and so on and so on until eventually we're behind the equivalent of a moral Great Firewall of China.

To me that is the problem with such broad ranging surveillance initiatives. It's not always the government of today one needs to fear, it's the unforeseen administrations of tomorrow.

Plus there is always the chance that any such security initiative will be rendered obsolete by a sixteen year old kid in Micronesia a week after it's rolled out.

h/t to Donklephant