June 16, 2008

Lex Orwell

As powerful as santa clausOn Ethical Perspectives on the News I write about Lex Orwell: When is a Surveillance Society OK?

I think the answer is pretty clear: It is OK when it is acting for legitimate goals, doing it in an efficient manner and not misusing its powers. This can be controlled by balancing the invasion of privacy by an equal or greater increase in the transparency and accountability of the responsible agencies.

So if FRA gets to read all my Internet communications, all Internet communications of FRA should also be intercepted by an oversight organisation to keep a check on the agency. Some twisty meta-oversight issues involving checking the oversight board too, but given that each level is an order of magnitude smaller than the previous this is quite doable. Just as the growth of digital media has made traditional intelligence gathering simultaneously easier and harder, it can make holding people accountable easier and harder too. As long as power and accountability are hard to separate, things are relatively fine. The traditional idea of oversight organisations simply must be updated to fit the 21st century.

Posted by Anders3 at June 16, 2008 07:13 PM