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Communications of the ACM

Letters to the Editor

Accountability Is No Excuse For Surveillance

Letters to the Editor


British philosopher and social theorist Jeremy Bentham would have wholeheartedly endorsed many of the accountability mechanisms Stefan Bechtold and Adrian Perrig outlined in their Viewpoint "Accountability in Future Internet Architectures" (Sept. 2014). It reminded me of Bentham's Panopticon (late 18th century), a prison where the prisoners would be motivated to behave in a more civilized manner by being made to think they were always under surveillance. Likewise, Bechtold and Perrig took the view that network users being tracked and made accountable for their actions would improve the Internet.

I am certain the majority of governments today would endorse this architecture, in which it would be possible to trace all Internet Protocol communication packets from source to destination and guarantee everyone is using the network responsibly. Indeed, many governments already pursue such a goal.


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