American Civil Liberties Union : The Surveillance-Industrial Complex

The full title is “The Surveillance-Industrial Complex: How the American Government Is Conscripting Businesses and Individuals in the Construction of a Surveillance Society,” and, well, the fourth conclusion is that the ACLU is leading the fight.

The expansion and aggregation of data about citizens by corporations, combined with post-911 paranoia is leading to the development of dossiers on everyone, eagerly consumed by governments, law enforcement agencies, and corporations beyond the constraints laid down by law and constitution.

The technology is in place, and the collections are for sale to anyone. The government wants to use them to fight terrorism by treating everyone as suspects. Is this the end for the concept of the free and private citizen? Is this the route to a police state?

For those concerned about data collections being used to spy on Americans (and Canadians, among others), this is an interesting and disturbing 33 page report.

American Civil Liberties Union : The Surveillance-Industrial Complex

The relevance to indexing and search is that search engine companies can track your searches (at least by IP address), and maintain a database of them. Companies like Google which offer diverse services such as Froogle, GMail, and Orkut can track your search terms, correspondence, shopping, and social interactions and combine them with outside data into a huge and comprehensive profile of you and everybody else. The sale of such information is a potentially huge revenue stream for a corporation, and in itself is a powerful resource for surveillance, analysis, and control.

How can a public index ensure that privacy is protected?

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