This is something I came up with after reading
Comments, especially how to make it better, or where else to post it, are welcome.
Dear Mr. Pugh.
While I understand the reason for proposing yet more pervasive
surveillance now down to children of five -- but as you rightly suggest,
why stop there, you're having a field day -- I think this touches on
some abstract but important notions that deserve to be mentioned.
Frankly, I don't really care about officials catching criminals as early
as possible. Sticking a label on young children predicting they'll do
bad things really soon now is more likely to become self-fulfilling
prophecy than actually helping them avoiding any pitfalls.
Looking forward to anticipate where we'll be another generation onwards
and trying to take any advantage you can get is no more than natural for
a responsible shopkeeper. Then again, it isn't the job of the police
to wage war on anything, include crime. All it should strive to do is
to help society take care of its disruptive elements -- disruptive to
society, not necessairily the government. On the other hand, we are
human, and while we should do our best to learn from our errors, taking
away the ability to make them isn't going to help anybody.
What is really at stake here is who is responsible for one's misdeeds.
I say the individual first, when too young his parents, after that
traditionally family, friends, neighbours, the rest of the street, and
so on. When society frowns most of us pick up the hint. If not, it'll
come up with a stronger hint.
Some people won't learn, but that does not justify taking away that
freedom. One can, however, choose to not have the rest of us suffer
their inability. How, is a matter of taste and choice to society.
Even in the emerging age of information, this has not changed. The
actual relations now have additional ways to play out, ways that are
much less bound to the physical world, but they do bind people together
just the same. This is but one manifestation of society.
This is true even if the people who didn't grow up with the newfangled
things look at their children flabberghasted and unable to support them
growing up with the new tools. What has alwo remained the same is that
once all that fails, the police and after that the judicial system
should be useful as fallbacks and safety nets.
For some reason, though, someone somewhere has somewhat lost track of
some of this point. To wit, by law parents are responsible for their
children until majority, and for good reason. Yet the governmental
privacy watchdog had the gall to deny parents a say in their children's
fingerprints being taken in schools. I call that a sign on the wall.
Even the agency who's supposed to understand the fine points of who can
do what with what information doesn't understand the basics.
Or maybe it was deliberate, but that raises another question: Will the
government take over the complete burden of being a parent? Nanny people
from cradle to grave, shoving aside biological parents as a nuisance? If
it does not, it currently leaves parents with all the responsibility but
not the authority to carry out their tasks. IE, management gone horribly
What is happening here is that the government is apparently at a loss
as to what it shall reinvent itself as, now that it has privatized most
of the things that used to have any actual value to the public, and
squeezed the rest into uselessness itself for good measure. In response
it is starting to wildly flail around to try and suppress any critique.
Core business and market forces and all that is pretty talk indeed, but
apparently even those who run the government don't believe they're here
to support and protect the people. Whether the individual peons believe
it or not, what is happening is the governemnt is taking away right
after right to criticize the government. Track, surveil, intimidate
indirectly and directly, suppress, control, crush. Rinse, repeat.
In places it's getting downright ridiculous, with pushing ID schemes
and ever larger databases down our throats, up our behinds, if not
through the front door, sneak it in through the back, attack ever softer
targets. Target the meek and the weak, actual government policy.
The reasoning behind it is about as ethically solid as bottles of
water (itself a combustion product) are likely to blow up airplanes.
Nowadays, they're regarded as higly incriminating by the powers that be
regardless. Those powers have about as much credibility left. All that
is keeping them in place is inertia -- and they have to know their time
is running out, as responsible statesmen ought to be thinking in decades
instead of merely until just before the next election term.
In practical terms, I think that it is irresponsible of a currently
clearly inept bureaucratic machine and barely accountable government
to push forward with exploiting the latest in technology for people
control. That is, until a reasonable antidote exists so that innocent
people can defend themselves again.
Buck naked and with no recourse is where you're leaving us the populace,
unable even to keep our own children safe. I no longer believe the
government is interested in providing that service to me, either. To
itself, yes, with lots of fanfare and security circus, but not to the
rest of us. We're just a nuisance, and we apparently may be terrorists
too, so it's perfectly alright to treat all of us as criminals already,
down to the babes. Everybody's a criminal so they will be too. It is the
logical next step. Q.E.D.
This needs to be fixed. This needs to be fixed because if we don't,
we'll end up without a viable society. Or we people can fix it, at the
likely cost of the government as it is today. As with all such changes,
that is likely to be quite painful a process. However, there is much we
can do before that will become necessairy, and the government can find
purpose again in facilitating society:
Technologically we can do things like introduce zero knowledge
proofs: The math to proving I know something without handing over the
information itself exists. Practically this means I could prove I'm
old enough to buy spirits and cigarettes without telling the clerk my
birthdate. Or, well, the possibilities are endless. I think it is the
right way forward in our more and more information dependent society.
Another trick is that of mutual verification of every transaction.
It allows me to verify I'm dealing with a real police person without
needing to know the full name and address, exposing them to possible
retalliation. This can be extended to stores too: prove the clerk works
there and is entitled to ask for my proof on behalf of his employer.
Some of this technology has already been in use for quite a while.
Combining this can provide an infrastructure that allows everyone,
regardless of station, to take part in transactions that provide
both security and privacy guarantees. And that without the need for
massive, leaky, vulnerable databases that make it needlessly hard for
their victims to track, verify, control, or even just correct the data
therein. If nothing else, it'll be cheaper and less risky for everyone.
Them, socially, because we're still dealing with people here, we need
very clear and open rules as to what the government may and may not
even ask for. What we need to be able to trust the government again is
at least to clearly define what it is there for. I say that includes
providing an environment that helps society and individuals grow and
become able to take on responsibility themselves. Not by suppressing
them into helplessness ``for their own good''.
Once you properly fix that, or at least get a good start and make
it possible for society to pick up its part, you can come back with
suggestions as to help society control its disruptive elements. Before
that, and regardless of even the best possible benefits, I look at the
drawbacks and I say nay.