Thursday, June 20, 2013

PRISM, "Expectation of Privacy", and the Changing Norms

I've got a longer post on NSA surveillance, but let me start by observing that America has not had a serious discussion about what data should be public, semi-public, or private since ... I don't know, since some 19th century Congressmen discovered the executive branch was reading their telegrams. Every once in a while, a Supreme Court case forces the legal system to think about ones expectation of privacy, or a video rental place will leak the porn habits of a Federal judge, but we haven't really thought about consumer privacy very comprehensively. That goes for both protection from government intrusion and from private sector intrustion. As Wired's Bruce Schneier points out, advances in social media, GPS in everyone's phone and car, and the like mean that the "expectation of privacy" test will rapidly leave is with no privacy. The Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which protects the privacy of email hasn't been updated since the year Top Gun was released.

We are overdue for an overhaul.

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