Privacy versus security in attack aftermath

In the aftermath of last week's attacks in New York and Washington the public, businesses, and legislators try to work out how...

In the aftermath of last week's attacks in New York and Washington the public, businesses, and legislators try to work out how personal privacy and national security can co-exist.

"I think you're going to see an awful lot of pressure from the government to at least increase the ability of law enforcement to get access to private information," said Rob Enderle, an analyst at Giga Information Group.

The US government is already discussing the collection of information for law enforcement purposes - including technologies such as facial scanning - and it is this area of information collection that is most likely to see changes in the near future.

Enderle believes that much of the resources to be spent on President Bush's "war" on terrorism will be spent on technologies that will allow increased monitoring of all kinds of communication.

Bart Lazar, an expert in electronic privacy and security law, expects to see efforts to make sure the government can access encrypted messages, as well as increased usage of the FBI's Carnivore technology.

"Americans have a natural aversion to Big Brother, [but] we also understand that if there is a justifiable need it is more likely to be permitted under law and under public opinion," Lazar said. "We now have a substantial justification."

When facial recognition technology was used by law enforcement agencies during last year's Super Bowl, many viewed it as an invasion of personal privacy, said Tom Colatosti, president and chief executive officer of Viisage Technology, which makes facial recognition systems for use in airports and other public venues.

The controversy over privacy issues has dominated public discussion and obscured the fact that the technology can save lives, he said. "We think it is important to make a distinction between a high-risk site, such as an airport, the Super Bowl, or the Olympics, as opposed to a street corner," Colatosti added.

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