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Thursday
Jan 30th, 2014
11:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Eastern Time

Two contradicting federal court decisions in December 2013 focus on whether the National Security Agency's massive data collection program is constitutional because it does not probe into the content of phone calls, only the digits dialed to and from a phone. A 1979 U.S. Supreme Court opinion held that collecting data on dialed phone numbers does not require a prior court order, as a wiretap would. But that decision is no longer fitting. Changes in the way we use telephone technology mean that dialing information establishes patterns of relationships as well as our personal interests and needs-indeed, our very locations. This is far more sensitive than medical and financial information about ourselves, including employment or credit information. It is even more revealing and damaging than the content of our conversations. IT administrators must recognize this new reality. The principles of fair information practice do not fit this important change in sensitivity. And, of course, the new reality may change again in an instant. This is an example of how learning the historical development of privacy concerns helps us focus our efforts on what is most important, not on concerns of the last century.

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