well it looks like today is a good day for blogging. here is another good post from Chrisopher Allen. this guy's blog is great, go read it, add it to your RSS feed, whatever.The term privacy seems to be so overused and poorly defined. my undergraduate security course (which i later TA'd) simply defined it as such:
privacy: confidentiality with regards to personal informationif that helps at all.
This comes from their [Europeans'] history: the Netherlands in the 1930s had a very comprehensive administrative census and registration of their own population, and this information was captured by the Nazis within the first three days of occupation. Thus Dutch Jews had the highest death rate (73 percent) of Jews residing in any occupied western European country -- far higher than the death rate among the Jewish population of Belgium (40 percent) and France (25 percent). Even the death rate in Germany was less then the Netherlands because the Jews there had avoided registration. (source: The Dark Side of Numbers).now its time for the tin-foil hat. if you have never thought much about privacy, consider the current trend of identity theft crimes. now consider that the people doing this are at best, organized criminals. now consider how easy it would be for large governments (there are more than one) with massive budgets, computing power, and political leverage, to compile similar amounts of data on a much larger set of people in this age of automation and full-text search. in fact, its already being done. people are being stopped in airports due to terrorist watch-lists all the time. and that could be just the beginning. the scary idea is more in line with the example above. sure, you trust your government to keep that giant list of theirs and use if for the Powers of Good, but what about the day that list is leaked by a spy? it can happen. its just a file.