Saturday, August 26, 2006

'Trust us, we mean well' is not a guarantee

'By extending the reach of the state and breaking down the principle of functional separation between government departments, you set up the mechanisms by which a future government might abuse its citizens. What is in the "public interest" is subject to capricious changes of definition, as we all know. "Trust us, we mean well" is not enough of a guarantee.

Two dicta are appropriate here: "knowledge is power" and "information wants to be free". We return to the principal problem with ID cards. The best way — the only way — to prevent a government abusing a comprehensive database on its citizens is to prevent that database existing in the first place. And the larger and less Balkanised the database, the more frictionless and unaccountable the exchanges of information, and the more difficult it becomes to keep data secure.' —Sam Leith (thanks, Helen!)

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