What is the force in, “Great Brother”?

Author: Ury Smirnov. Category: Smart world. Date:21.04.2009, 12:30.

One more technology of “mind reading”is developed. / Progress was made in recognition of faces in the crowd. / Billboards had appeared, that are able to follow the direction of passersbies’ sights. / Medications are created that delete disturbing memories …

Such news, judging by the comments of readers of online media, do not please but frighten the public. People, not without reasons, fear that progress would help States to establish a final and absolute dictat over “a little man”, his believes, lifestyle, and habits.

The root of evil, however, is not in technology, but in the human relations. Below there are eight principles, which being legislatively fixed would allow at least partially to counterbalance the omnipotence of the state with its latest technologies.

So, let’s talk today about the police files, and automatic systems following people (including government and corporate surveillance network, systems monitoring the positioning of mobile subscribers, complexes that analyze the behavior of Internet users – and whatever else that on this account will be invented in the future).

1. As the main function of automatic tracking systems should be recognized the detection of abnormal, potentially dangerous activity which threatens a specific person at his place of residence, work, travel routes. The authorities must immediately notify the potential victim of possible hazards by any means. I’m sure that such change in the point of view, in addition to “humanization” of the special services, would help the State to identify better the threats against a large number of concrete persons. ie, successfully deal with what is today called “national security”.

2. Archive files of the tracking systems which containe the information about concrete man, should be available to him at any time. Everybody has the right to copy such files, to pass them to lawyers, relatives, friends, to publish them in open access (in addition to his own files), and save them on special certified online services (for the case if the originals would be changed or deleted).

3. Auto-tracking data should be taken by the court as the proof of innocence of an individual (so-called “electronic alibi”).

4. Anomalies in human behavior found with analytical program or by its the operator can not be used in court as the proof of criminal intentions of the person. In exceptional cases, the operator can make in real time an order to verify the documents and personal effects of a suspicious person – so as an ordinary street guard acts when any passer-by behaves inimically.

5. If the police start to file any person’s behaviour, a password to access the secure personal account where his file is stored must be given to the person. Everyone has the right to sue for removing from his file any incorrect or outdated facts and adding recommendations positively characterizing the personality.

6. Employees of law enforcement, municipal and social services, supervisory and judicial bodies, etc. have no right to copy, move, and print any personal files (except one only copy for the litigation). They are required to view the files only in personal accounts. Thus, account holders will always know who is interested in their biographies — and will require further explanation of such attention.

7. Intelligence agencies to combat terrorism, drugs, especially dangerous crimes, etc. are entitled to have their own dossiers on suspects for their operational purposes. However, the court in assessing the identity of the accused person does not take into account the facts and features not listed in the main file.

8. Making bargains, leases, marriage contracts, etc. the parties should provide each other access to their files.

PS Of course, this list can be edited in accordance with the actual level of technological development and legal institutions. For example, I can admit that in the future everybody would have access to information about any person. And they would consider reasonable such arrangement … All that I wanted to say with this post consist in offering to my dear readers to overstep the limits of the common stereotypes (“record video can view only those who are allowed”, “no one can read his own files, and so etc.). Our stereotypes are the main things that endanger our liberty.

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