The Spread of Surveillance Culture

About 5,000 applicants across the country turned down for a Transportation Worker Identification Credential got letters with the following language: “I have determined that you pose a security threat,” authored by John M. Busch, a security administration official. I think there may be an interesting tension here between the judiciary’s usual deference to the government in security matters, and some due process cases indicating a basic right of “pre-stigmatization” due process.

Meanwhile, Vauhini Vara reports that “New Sites Make It Easier To Spy on Your Friends.” Some leading contenders:

Zaba Inc.’s ZabaSearch.com turns up public records such as criminal history and birthdates. Spock Networks Inc.’s Spock.com and Wink Technologies Inc.’s Wink.com are “people-search engines” that specialize in digging up personal pages, such as social-networking profiles, buried deep in the Web. Spokeo.com is a search site operated by Spokeo Inc., a startup that lets users see what their friends are doing on other Web sites. Zillow Inc.’s Zillow.com estimates the value of people’s homes, while the Huffington Post’s Fundrace feature tracks their campaign donations. Jigsaw Data Corp.’s Jigsaw.com, meanwhile, lets people share details with each other from business cards they’ve collected — a sort of gray market for Rolodex data.

For the privacy-concerned, the article advises “If you don’t want people to find your address online, for example, don’t list it in local phone books, which often provide data to online address-search services.”

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