Yudhijit Bhattacharjee, who writes in the May Atlantic about government mining of Internet searches, would make a good Stasi agent, if only there were still an East Germany. He writes:
In fact, some searches could be viewed as a form of dialogue between citizens and their government. Why shouldn’t what constituents are exploring online be the government’s business in a healthy democracy? A spike in searches on ‘student loans’ in New Orleans, for example, could help education officials decide whether to expand local college-aid programs.
Yes, Uncle Sam is just a benevolent vacuum cleaner, sucking up bits of your personal data and aggregating them in order to offer you better
bribes services. What Bhattacharjee is describing, translated from the Web to the real world, is the equivalent of police standing around in public places recording and compiling the conversations of every passer-by. And guess what happens if a patriotic snoop happens to overhear a lot of “hate speech” or seditious talk about “liberty”?
Perhaps the Atlantic ought to run this piece as a follow-up.