Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Are Americans entitled to anonymity, at least for the metadata? Also, chess maps to real life

Do we need a reinforcement of the right to anonymous broadcast speech?  Jed Rubenfeld argues in the Washington Post on Monday, January 13, 2014, p. A17, for it with “A right we need: Anonymity” (print) or “We need a new jurisprudence of anonymity”, link here.
Rubenfeld proposes that the NSA identify a person associated with the metadata identifier of a communication node (cell phone number or IP address) with encrypted codes only, and then only have the ability to identify the party when there is some probable cause, like that cell phone made a call to an Al Qaeda point in Yemen or any similar country.  The trouble with that proposal is that some party has to manage the encryption.  Who else but the NSA (or another government agency)?  That just further compartmentalizes identification, but it still doesn’t completely protect anonymity.
Rubenfeld argues that we have, however, given up a lot of privacy, creating dossiers of ourselves online, which in many fields are becoming necessary to function at all.  However your metadata (the identifiers of your contacts) is not as personal as your content.
Tonight, I went to a lecture on chess pawn structures, given by a local grandmaster.  I am struck how the perception of the way various positional configurations (like isolated or double pawns) are viewed has changed with time and with computers.  Whole new defenses like the Sveshnikov Sicilian go mainstream as dynamics in a position turn out to be more important that appearances or what things “look like”.  Does that correspond to our changes in social issues?  Perhaps there is some lesson, though, that the value of a particular pawn is affected by the position of activity of its neighbors. 

It is also said that in chess, only your own mistakes can beat you, even when you play a grandmaster.  Yet, that is now how “real life” works.  It did for a long time, but not as much now.   

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