We're Calling It "Omnivore" in Memory of "Carnivore"
If power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely, what does absolute information awareness do?
That’s a good question to ask in light of FBI Director Robert Mueller’s call for “omnibus” Internet surveillance. In testimony to the Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives on Wednesday, Mueller suggested legislation be passed that would give the bureau the right to monitor the Internet at the backbone level.
Said Mueller: “I think legislation has to be developed that balances on one hand, the privacy rights of the individual who are receiving the information, but on the other hand, given the technology, the necessity of having some omnibus search capability utilizing filters that would identify the illegal activity as it comes through and give us the ability to preempt that illegal activity where it comes through a choke point as opposed to the point where it is diffuse on the Internet.”
Shades of Carnivore, right? The “choke point” to which Mueller alludes is presumably the National Security Agency, which has been probing the data passing through the Internet backbone like some Orwellian spinal surgeon. Which is a little frightening. Because the packets of data being passed back and forth over the Internet don’t come prelabeled. There’s no “ILLEGAL ACTIVITY” designation. It’s just activity, and Mueller would apparently like permission to survey it all.
While respecting the privacy rights of the individual, of course. Thoughtful.