Data mining to combat terrorism and the roots of privacy concerns

Ethics and Information Technology 7 (4):211-220 (2005)

Abstract
Recently, there has been a heavy debate in the US about the government’s use of data mining in its fight against terrorism. Privacy concerns in fact led the Congress to terminate the funding of TIA, a program for advanced information technology to be used in the combat of terrorism. The arguments put forward in this debate, more specifically those found in the main report and minority report by the TAPAC established by the Secretary of Defense to examine the TIA issue, will be analysed to trace the deeper roots of this controversy. This analysis will in turn be used as a test case to examine the adequacy of the usual theoretical frameworks for these kinds of issues, in particular the notion of privacy. Whereas the dominant theoretical framing of the notion of privacy turns around access to information, most of the core arguments in the debate do not fit in this kind of framework. The basic disagreements in the controversy are not about mere access, they involve both access and use. Furthermore, whereas the issue of access by itself refers to a more or less static situation, the real disagreements much more concern the organisational dynamics of the use of information, the mechanisms in the organisation that control these dynamics, and the awareness present within the organisation of the ‘social risks’ these dynamics represent. The bottom line question is whether the assessment of these gives sufficient reason for trust.
Keywords data mining   ethics   privacy   risk   security   systems of subliminal enticement   terrorism
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Reprint years 2006
DOI 10.1007/s10676-006-0010-6
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Privacy, Secrecy and Security.Paul B. Thompson - 2001 - Ethics and Information Technology 3 (1):13-19.

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