Assigned Date: Monday, April 7, 2003
Due Date: Monday, April 28, 2003
Due Time: Noon
Updated: Thursday, April 10, 2003 09:58 PM
File name to be submitted: Computers-Freedom-Privacy.rtf (MS rich-text format)
Skills Developed: Critical thinking, Computer Ethics.
Whether we like it or not, we have entered an era of technocracy -- an era where society is managed more and more by technical "experts."
For instance, go to www.google.com and enter your phone number in the search area. If you have a regular phone number (not private, not cell phone, listed in the phone book), then this search should pull up your personal information including your name, address, city, zip code, and a map to your house.
Most probably, Google was only trying to improve the functionality of its site. However, this feature shows a total disregard for basic privacy rights -- that is, although you may give your phone number to someone, you may still wish to keep your address private.
ACM Code of Ethics
The Google "phone feature" also demonstrates a total disregard for the Code of Ethics for computing professionals and students as adopted by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) on October 16, 1992. As you may know, ACM is the flagship organization for computing professionals and students.
Computers, Freedom, and Privacy
ACM recently hosted the 13th annual conference on "Computers, Freedom, and Privacy". This conference is mostly a scientific, professional forum, not a political one. It attracts attendees from government, business, education, and non-profits.
This year's conference highlighted how government electronic surveillance efforts have accelerated in the wake of Sept. 11. Topics of discussion included the Total Information Awareness project, the USA Patriot Act, and the proposed follow-up, Patriot II. Each of these initiatives involves the use of technology to extend law enforcement's powers to gather data and monitor the movements of citizens. Other items discussed at the conference included the National Crime Information Center criminal database and a passenger profiling system. The running theme of this year's conference was how civil liberties are being impacted by proposed and approved measures in the name of security. [See "Does Security Mean Sacrificing Privacy?", ACM TECHNews vol 5, issue 477]
As a public service, ACM has made freely available the plenary sessions (as MP3's or streaming audio). Point your browser to www.cfp2003.org/cfp2003/program.html, click on any of the links, and let your computer do the rest.
Listen to the opening keynote address by Bruce Schneier. This presentation lasts about 50 mins, but you can hear it in portions (by pausing your audio player). This talk is an objective, non-partisan analysis of the trade-offs between security and privacy post 9/11.
Write a small report (approx. 1000-1500 words -- Times Roman 11 point or Arial 10 point font) with the following outline/format: