Wednesday, December 18, 2002
Some dogs bite men.Some companies will provide information about their customers to law enforcement agencies, even without a court order. Some companies won't. This startling news, coming from that magic news source -- a new study -- is made slightly more banal when one reads the caveat that, "The survey questions do not give a sense of what information might be shared or under what circumstances." So, in other words, the survey makes no distinction between a bank giving out personal account information for a guy arrested for littering, or a credit card company revealing a mailing address of a suspected terrorist.
The article does make one good point:
But growing concerns about government encroachments on privacy and civil liberties have not taken into account the degree to which people hand over information willingly, said Mark Rasch, a former federal prosecutor who now works for Solutionary, a computer security company.When one has ideological blinders on, one can get so worked up about a particular issue -- the expansion of law enforcement authority, in this case -- that one misses the forest for the trees.
Here's an interesting aside, unrelated to the substantive point:
Nearly a quarter of the corporate security officers in a survey to be released today said they would supply information about customers to law enforcement officials and government agencies without a court order....and later...
Legal experts were divided on the implications of the survey. "The survey hasn't been officially released yet, but we have a New York Times story on it, and quotes from several people about its "implications." Shouldn't a reporter wait until people actually read a survey before asking them about it? Or is this just another example of what CalPundit described last week: the formulaic approach to journalism, in which the reporter determines the topic of the story and then calls the usual suspects from the Rolodex, regardless of whether they have anything specific to contribute?
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