In the essay “Mining Student Data Could Save Lives”, Morris advocates data-mining – the intensive practice of algorithm-based computer programs monitoring data and looking for potentially awry or suspicious patterns during information exchange.
I stand by the author’s point of view, as I believe further mitigating the chances of horrendous acts of terrorism (like some of the clearly preventable ones we’ve seen in the past) taking place and subsequently saving lives is much a graver issue at hand than someone’s mere online privacy protection.
With the internet serving as practically a marketplace where sellers and buyers interact, the former party is always feeding on information from consumers, be it product preferences, shopping records or even just a customer’s browsing history. The same degree of privacy intrusion could be utilized for security purposes to study data exchange on networks and look for potential red flags – an example of one such event could be an online chat between two friends discussing the illegal purchase of a semi-automatic rifle. Perhaps, key loggers or other similar recording software could look for certain keystrokes and key phrases that alert specialists to intrude that network. In my opinion, this level of surveillance is necessary, as long as the power to monitor data is only limited to a few, responsible hands, so peoples’ privacy could not be misused by other people.
Respecting privacy is important, but if that cloak of secrecy is so thick that it gives someone the power to perform malicious, behind-the-door acts, without anyone finding out, then a check and balance is absolutely crucial.