An article on The Intercept covered an argument privacy advocates under-use: large dragnet based surveillance creates a ‘needle in the haystack’ effect. Given the nature of dragnet data collection, surveillance agencies loose the capacity to distinguish meaningful intelligence from the deluge of data that they process on a daily basis. This creates a static noise for agencies which lowers the chance of finding the bad guys and shows how current intelligence policies are counter-intuitive. The biggest kick? A big proprietor behind the argument against dragnet surveillance works for the NSA him/herself.
Despite this omission, intelligence agencies continue to demand for expanded powers for surveillance. Rather than recognize their impotency in face of mountains of data, surveillance proponents demand more in the same way an addict gets their fix. Worse yet, many remain hell bent on the idea that all data must remain open to government spooks, regardless if the information means anything. Continuing the bizarreness, however, is that the author of the patriot act, Congressman Sensenbrenner (R-WI), agrees that the level of data collection today is more of a danger than a boon. Even when everything points to the counter, national security fanatics refuse to see the truth.
The whole scenario reminds me heavily of Jean Baudrillard’s criticism of modernity and media, so I end this post with a quote:
Everywhere one seeks to produce meaning, to make the world signify, to render it visible. We are not, however, in danger of lacking meaning; quite the contrary, we are gorged with meaning and it is killing us.
– Jean Baudrillard, The Ecstasy of Communication pg 55