Body Scans and WikiLeaks
By Arnold Kling
WikiLeaks is at best a temporary victory for transparency, and it’s likely to spur the further insulation of the permanent state from scrutiny, accountability or even self-knowledge.
I think the government may try to close up, but it will not succeed. I think that both body scans and WikeLeaks are part of the same trend, which is toward less privacy. See David Brin’s The Transparent Society. Brin would prefer a more idealistic social equilibrium, in which privacy-invading technology is widely available while cultural norms constrain its use. I think we may move in that direction, but it will be through ugly lurches rather than idealistic design.
My point is simply that everyone has to plan for having less secrecy. Diplomats and “secret” agents have to operate under the assumption that there is a non-zero probability of exposure of their words and actions. Ordinary people have to assume that they can be caught doing things that twenty years ago they would have gotten away with. Cell phone records alone give away as much information as it used to take a private detective months to obtain.