If you were as lazy as Inkwell over the Memorial Day weekend, you might have missed a must-read by the Manhattan Institute’s Heather Mac Donald.
Mickey Kaus of kausfiles credits Mac Donald–whose piece dealt with the use of computers in the war on terror–with injecting “some sanity into the government side of the data-privacy issue.”
In her Memorial Day op-ed in the Washington Post, Mac Donald charges that a blue-ribbon commission’s proposal that the government must obtain a court order every time it seeks to use computers to go over raw data to (as the clich’ goes) “connect the dots” is “irrational.”
If the commission’s proposal is accepted, writes Mac Donald, it will shut down an important front on the war on terror.
“It would be acceptable, according to the panel, for a human agent to pore over millions of intelligence records looking for al Qaeda suspects who share phone numbers, say, and have traveled to terror haunts in South America,” writes Mac Donald. “But program a computer to make that same search, declares the advisory committee, and judicial approval is needed, because computer analysis of intelligence databanks allegedly violates ’privacy.’”