The History and Mathematics of Codes and Code Breaking

Tag: crystal ball

Maximizing Both Security and Privacy

Morris argues that universities should mine student’s data to identify and prevent potentially threatening behaviors which could cause harm to other students of faculty. He compares data mining with a crystal ball, that universities could use to ensure the safety of those on campus. Additionally he brings up a potential objection, that FERPA could prevent this type of mining because of privacy rights and the inability to release confidential student records. To counter this he presents a case from Virginia Tech which added a clause that would make this prevention possible. Morris also brings up the data mining that cookies do for online sellers to better tailor advertising. I agree with the sentiment that Morris presents. Oftentimes we must sacrifice privacy in order to help with health and security. However, I think that his analogy of a crystal ball is a line coming from far fetched sensationalism. It isn’t the data mining itself, it’s the algorithm which interprets data and predicts future developments or makes conclusions that poses as the crystal ball. There also remains the question of how powerful these algorithms are. Predicting human behavior is difficult, and should an algorithm be wrong, a student’s life could be ruined, even though they were simply researching for their criminal psychology class. Additionally, in order to strengthen Morris’s argument I would like to bring up the impersonal aspect of this technology. Since all of these algorithms are being fed through machines, the data could be encrypted and also given to machines, so that actual humans would never see it or interpret it. That way, only machines would be running the algorithms and the only data examined would be that which poses a risk. This would help maintain privacy while increasing campus security.

Drawing a Fine Line between Safety and Privacy

Ever since America was hit in the face with the realities of international and domestic terrorism starting with the tragic morning in September of 2001 or even as far back as Columbine in 1996, our country has had a skeptical outlook on the privacy and safety of our citizens and our country as a whole. Although everyone can agree that safety is one of our utmost priorities, many individuals become defensive when personal benefits and freedoms are at stake. Michael Morris is confident that while we continue to tug back and forth at where exactly the line should be drawn, that college campuses should take full advantage of what they have in hand to keep their students safe.

College campuses have the ability to use student data from their systems to track potential threats, particularly on-campus violence attacks and threats. Morris calls it the "crystal ball", which colleges can use to work towards campus safety in general. Morris goes on to talk about various points that require discussion, primarily the distinction between intent of safety and intrusion and all the sub-points that fall under that umbrella. In the past years, the Department of Education in cooperation with several universities has clarified policies such as Ferpa to give  universities more leverage when they feel they need to act on situations that cause any concern or threat.

Personally, I fully agree with Morris's argument primarily because as a college student in an age where society has become numbed to constant breaking news of shootings and acts of domestic terrorism, some action should be taken even if there is controversy and conflict about it. To ensure that our culture does not crumble into pieces, there should and must be an immediate action plan that allows campuses to do what they can in their power to provide safety for all their students. From there, we have the ability to build a new culture that works towards safety among all our citizens.

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