Of surveillance, privacy… and justice.

Just came across this story, a sad tale that illustrates how data is being collected on us all the time. Some privacy advocates don’t like it. While I understand their concerns, it looks like data collection is here to stay.

Short version, two young bloods go racing, and two innocent people get killed. One of the lads claims that they were doing “50-55MPH” at the time of the accident, but data downloaded from one car’s computer shows a speed of 139MPH. As a result of this, the Grand Jury indicted them for Murder. They are now serving three years after “copping a plea” to Manslaughter. Here my comments:

  • Teenage, Testosterone and Tires are a dangerous combination – teenagers have no business tooling around in late-model Sports cars. Whatever happened to starting off with a junker and working your way up?
  • Drive past a high school and look at what those “students” are driving. If they earned their cars, good luck to them. If not, whomever gave them the keys to those vehicles shares the blame.
  • Their crime was stupidity; sending them to jail in this case helps no-one. Not that they have done nothing wrong, but methinks that having to go through life knowing that you killed someone is punishment enough.
  • “Plea-bargaining” is one of the worst aspects of the American legal system. I, for one, would like to see it abolished.
  • The father of one of the teenagers was upset about the “tattle-tale” data obtained from the car – he felt that the plea was “forced down our throats“. Well, Sir, cry me a river – your son’s stupidity cost two lives, then he lied about it – which you seem to think is perfectly ok , shame on you – and was found out. And you are upset? Tell that to the loved ones of those who died.

The current information culture in this country is that of corporate ownership of private data. Any company that you do business with has the right to sell, rent, trade or share your information unless you specifically tell them otherwise. This is the reason that we get so much junk mail. Since I started sending out standard opt-out letters to the most egrarious junkmailers, my junk mail has dropped dramatically, and my Credit-Card solicitations have dropped almost to zero.

Privacy should be the default option – too often businesses try to hide the opt-out button on the very sensible grounds that your information has value to them.

The real problem comes when information ends up where it should not be – in the hands of identity thieves, on junkmailers’ lists, in Government “fishing expedition” databases. That’s where we need accountability, safeguards.. and punishments. This is clearly one of those situations where use of the data is relevant and correct, if it is obtained lawfully.

As for me, I have no problem with information being disclosed as long as it is done by the book.

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  • gaureon  On August 8, 2006 at 1:25 AM

    What youth fails to grasp is that there is a level of accountability for their actions. By being in New York City perhaps they should have just taken the train and avoided their antics altogether by saving gas and lives. I am keen on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration mandating that the “black box” devices be disclosed to car buyers. I know there will be one in the plane I am flying, why not know if there is a box in my car.

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