Computer / User Privilege?

By | August 29, 2010

At H+ Magazine, Brad Templeton outlines the case for giving computers a privileged status regarding our personal information not unlike that afforded to attorneys or priests.

If we’re afraid our computers will betray us, we won’t be able to use them fully. The harm incurred by that loss must be balanced against the benefits of catching more crooks. We’re going to use our computers a lot more than we use our doctors, lawyers and priests.

It might be argued, in fact, that we already use our computers a great deal more. And in dealing with lawyers, doctors and priests, there is a real conversation with a human being and we’re typically fully alert about what we say — and of the risks of saying it. With computers, we are usually casual. They are like intimate family. Not too far in the future, they will be implanted in our bodies. For some, such as deaf people with cochlear implants, computers are already connected to their brains. If you can’t trust the computer implanted in your skull, who can you trust? Thanks to this familiarity, the criminals among us seem happy to let their computers record as they commit their crimes. Often, they are just not thinking about it. Thus, we might feel that while the confessional becomes almost valueless without clerical privilege, the computer is only modestly diminished.

But it is diminished. Therefor, it seems that some level of privilege should be granted to us and our interactions with our most trusted technologies.

I like the idea. It certainly seems that the recent trend has been towards greater and greater police power, however, and I can’t help but wonder how fiercely the criminal justice system would fight putting such a standard in place?

UPDATE: Sort of related: 10 Fallacies About Web Privacy