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Communications of the ACM


CFP: Prism

Blog coverage from the 23rd Conference on Computers, Freedom, and Privacy (CFP), Washington, DC

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The Computer, Freedom & Privacy Conference logo

The logo of the Computers, Freedom & Privacy Conference.

Credit: CFP2013

This panel has addressed more than just PRISM and is taking a look at all of the programs that were uncovered by the recent Guardian article. Each of these programs gathers an incredible amount of data and is connected with the others via Boundless Informant. The defense that the government is only collecting call records and not content is a misleading distinction.

The frustration with the collection of this overwhelming ocean of information (aside from its disturbing consequences for privacy and civil liberties) is that it isn't effective. As Wendy Grossman said, it's like trying to find a needle by building a bigger haystack. Mike German, who has a background in law enforcement, confirmed this analogy.As he explained, even before 9/11 and still today, intelligence failures do not come from a lack of data or information. Instead, the failure comes from the impossibility of effectively analyzing such oceans of indiscriminately gathered information. Collecting infinite information on innocent people will never indicate how guilty people actually act.


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