Will War Swap Privacy for Security?

Friday, 21 March 2003, 11:53 AM EST

Putting the brakes on technologies like the proposed Total Information Awareness program in the U.S. Department of Defense is not the answer, said Paul Rosenzweig, a senior legal research follow at conservative think tank Heritage Foundation.

"I think the answer ... is not prohibition, but you folks out here: extensive oversight, use of the mechanisms of Congress and the courts to restrain the misuses of power," Rosenzweig said to a room full of congressional staffers at a Congressional Internet Caucus luncheon on security against terrorism and privacy.

But Lance Hoffman, a computer science professor at George Washington University, questioned whether new laws could keep pace with technologies, including TIA and the Computer Assisted Passenger Prescreening System (CAPPS II) proposed by the U.S. Transportation Security Administration. He cited the example of file-trading on the Internet, where proposed laws have not been able to stop the illegal downloading of music.

"[Technology researchers] are pretty much under the radar screen until we do something that so changes things that we technologists are then noticed all of a sudden by legislators," Hoffman said. "Let me tell you, by that time it's too late."

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