The (quiet) introduction of a National Police Reference System in Australia has raised concerns on the impact on privacy. The database (run by CRIMTRAC has millions of records – including DNA and fingerprints) and is able to be accessed by all Australian law enforcement officers. There are up to 80,000 accesses to the data per day.
For more detail, please see http://www.smh.com.au/national/privacy-fears-growing-as-police-tighten-national-grip-20100117-mecr.html.
Here is an interesting (and a little controversial) article.
Briefly and informally, data mining refers to the process of extracting information from data. Data that on its own, may not make sense but through combination, inference and deduction techniques, produce patterns of useful and valuable information. These techniques have been used in the retail and banking industries to predict consumer trends and fraudulent activities. They can also be used to identify threats such as terrorists and pedophiles. Of course, there is also the possibility of error and wrongly labeling an innocent person as a threat.
It is arguable that the larger the volume of data and the higher its precision, the more accurate the results of the data mining techniques. However, data still needs to be provided in the very first place and from a researcher’s point of view, it has always been difficult to obtain data due to privacy concerns from data owners. (Who really owns the data is yet another issue.)
So how much of your privacy are you willing sacrifice to protect and ensure the safety and security of yourself and the ones around you?
A portable GPS device that can be inserted into a backpack and used to monitor a child’s whereabouts is being tested in Canada, Wired reports. In being a new parent to a beautiful daughter myself in 2009, I understand why tracking your childrens’ movements is so compelling for parents.
However imagine how you felt the first time you went out by yourself as a child. The first time you were allowed to go to the local store and buy your favourite comic… imagine if you knew that your parents were always watching you. How would that have changed you as a person, the independence, the sense of adventure that you can only get when you do something yourself without thinking that you are always being watched. So the question is ‘what are you depriving your children of when you continuously monitor their movements’?