Thursday, April 30, 2009

How increased transparency can improve security while empowering individuals

Here's science journalist John Horgan's vision:

Several years ago, the U.S. intelligence services created Intellipedia, a Wikipedia-style website where spies from the FBI, CIA, NSA and other federal agencies can swap information, ideas, speculations related to national security and seek communal consensus. The program was intended to break down the communication barriers that hindered security agencies from preventing 9/11. Intellipedia is called “open-source spying,” but it isn’t open at all; only people with security clearances can access the site, which contains classified information.

The world needs—and will soon have—a truly open-source, unclassified, grass-roots Intellipedia, which will publish information on threats to humanity, whether criminal gangs or corporations, religious cults or governments. The site will post reports from any sources, including non-profits such as Human Rights Watch, international organizations such as the U.N., the media, governments, corporations, and credible individuals. Reports may include satellite and cell-phone images, data from radiation and chemical sensors, transcripts of conversations, records of purchases of potential weapons components, and any other relevant evidence.

Ubiquitous, omni-directional surveillance may remind some of George Orwell’s Oceania or Jeremy Bentham’s Panopticon, dystopias in which central authorities keep citizens under constant scrutiny. But the whole point of omni-directional surveillance is to eliminate traditional, Big Brother-ish agencies like the CIA and KGB, whose secrecy enables abuses of power. Surveillance will be omni-directional; the public will know everything about the police and other governmental authorities, and vice versa.

Privacy—and the right of civilians to bear arms–is a small price to pay for peace, especially since we’re headed toward radical transparency anyway.
Sounds good to me.


Jason (the commenter) said...

John Horgan is ridiculous and it's easy to see why. Look at his reading material: 1984 and Panopticon.

I wont bother to point to what's wrong with his article, it's not like his ideas and their flaws haven't been raked over the coals hundreds of times in popular science fiction.

Read normal books people!