Recently I heard a really great argument against clandestine activities: It perpetuates the practice, the habits, the policies, and the systems that facilitate clandestine activities. Being something that we don’t want, systematic clandestine activities should be pointed out, certainly be strictly live-audited by unbiased third parties.
Why is clandestine activities bad? The truth of the matter is that knowledge begotten of clandestine activities are inherently out of context and incomplete information. Why spy on my computer, when you can walk up to me and ask? When you take a small slice of what happens, you will surely miss the whole as the whole is not represented by some of the things that you are able to see as a clandestine agent.
Previously suggested problem that those taking part in clandestine activities will as all things in nature fall into the path of least resistance. Some day, we will just water board every person we suspect, I mean why not? I’m sure there’s an email I sent once that says “I hate you” or “I’m gonna kill you” or “I hope you die”. And my constant opposition of clandestine activities is surely sign that I plan something and desire that no one sees it.
What is the difference between these series acts: passing a secret law that permits some person unknown to me at a time unknown to me read my emails, gather all my past school and employment records, find copies of all emails I’ve ever sent by USPS, and analyze all information about all my past employment and my family and friends, and these second series of acts: passing a secret law that permits some person unknown to me at a time unknown to me knock me out (perhaps it’s already happening in my sleep ? or even on flights, god knows how often I fall asleep quite inexplicably moments before push-off, with two air jets blowing cold air at me and two reading lights shining down! and only to come to quite suddenly for no reason), and torture me and get that information?
Well, you say, there is collateral damage, you feel pain when you are tortured but you do not feel pain when your email is being scanned. This ought to be the most humane way of getting the information from you. Why are you not on your knees thanking all the people whose hard work went into making it so that you are not water boarded? (rightfully or not)
Aha, thank you President Obama! The constitution should save us… Let’s see, according to wiki it implicitly presumes innocent for US citizens until proven guilty, but it provides wide leeway for authorities to investigate when suspicion is arouse.
We cannot pursue it through cruel and unusual punishments(8th amendment) as reading my email can hardly be construed as cruel and unusual… even in my interpretation. Although I can imagine some feel it is cruel.
It appears in the Fourth Amendment against unreasonable search and seizure:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
It also fall under Fifth Amendment of due process:
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
There should be a Grand Jury of my peers selected uniformly at random who when presented with evidence agree to the search and seizure of my information. I should not be deprived of my liberty and (privacy) property without due process of law. And of course the Ninth Amendment says that we may have rights beyond those listed
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
I should cover my behind and say, you guys in law enforcement are doing a heck of a job, which is much appreciated by present author. And I really hate all those other people who invade my privacy. It’s just that I might have a small chance by conventional means (law suite, legal protests, policies, etc.) of changing those things you do that I don’t like, and I do not have methods to affect those others.
Everyone who do take part in clandestine activities all feel absolute righteousness as they proceed in invasion of privacy that I do not want them to. Their feeling and their intention absolutely annoys me in addition to their act of invasion. Perhaps we should define invasion of privacy more formally so that these feelings about their feelings are processed rationally. If they can define information theoretic brain death, why can we not define more precisely what invasion of privacy is? What is personal privacy beyond those facts(bits, characters, words, sentences…) whose association with me is information that may cause me harm? regardless of harm, can we take the entropy of those bits and say that is the quantity of privacy lost? Actually, we should take information gain from a representative population and that is the information I lose–those that you gain. The privacy loss as defined (the negative of your information gain by reading my email from knowledge of all emails) actually only qualifies the privacy. It actually does not quantify it sufficiently.
Sadly, this very truthful and fundamental definition takes us a short ways. If you were an English major trying to find new phrasing of something, or if you are a VC looking for new cute company names, this will definitely find information detrimental to those trying to keep it private. But if I am someone plotting next Taliban attack, or someone discussing 21st century is a Marxist century, then the naïve information loss does not help as much as you would like it to (Certainly my email would give away less information under this definition than XYXYXZZZ.com inc) If everyone writes emails using words representing their true meaning equally and every one has same amount of total information(private+public) associated with them then reading your email and reading my email decreases our privacy equally. So we have parameters I_pr for private information, I_pu for public information.
We should compute using Bayes’ rule to compute
P(I_pr|my emails, others’ emails, I_pu) =
P(my emails | I_pr,I_pu, others’ emails)*P(I_pr,I_pu, others’ emails)/P(my emails, others’ emails, I_pu)
P(my emails|Others’ emails, I_pu)
and we can then calculate the information
IG(I_pr; my emails|others’ emails, I_pu)
based on these distributions, pending specification of relevant linking functions or mechanisms. But the problem with this much more convincing information gain is that you will never convince anyone that the link functions is representative of you. Too complicated for constitutional purposes for sure, and the courts will surely not be empathetic enough to follow the math… Maybe next century when everyone’s played with IG and done some modeling in grammar school.
For another example the number $54,102,299.14 and the number $14,541,022.99 relieves me of the same character-wise entropy privacy, however are quantitatively different. We need to rely on some oracle magic. Suppose there is a most concise way to describe the entirety of my privacy, say H containing a series of bits an oracle produced. Your knowledge of H would be your complete knowledge about me. ergmum, we should have a vocabulary of engrams, minimal cognitive elements… H is a series of engrams that is the complete knowledge about me–it’s finiteness is not specified. Let’s also suppose that my emails (the thing that you use to access my privacy) is encoded by the same oracle using the same engram language producing E the complete knowledge about my emails. |H| is the theoretic maximum privacy I can lose, H*E is the information that I actually lost (inner product like operation for vector space, TBD for strings, perhaps LCS for a special oracle). It remains only to calculate distance(such as edit_distance(H,E) for strings and euclidian_distance(H,E) for euclidian spaces) which is disinformation you gained by reading my email. H*E/|H| is the ratio of my privacy lost, H*E/|E| is the truthfulness of my emails.
It remains to be seen how to find an oracle, the definition of the engram language, operations over it, campaign to enact law to account and compensate us for the privacy lost, etc. However, I am really really wishing that all these clandestine activities are like zits in the face of growing humanity reaching adulthood and will blow away as our vitalities settle into their respective places.