Odds and Ends – Catching Up on My Reading

by on December 28, 2007 · 0 comments

Nothing like the holidays for catching up on one’s reading! Here, in no particular order, are things I should have pointed out to you already:

* The Fall 2007 Regulation magazine has some great articles. (Forgive me if they’ve been touted here already. I may have missed it.) “Considering Net Neutrality” is by TLF’s own Jerry Brito and his Mercatus colleague Jerry Ellig. “Antecedents to Net Neutrality” is another good one, by Bruce Owen of Stanford, who makes points similar to those Tim Lee has made.

Finally, there’s an article critical of Richard Epstein’s treatment of intellectual property as similar to physical property. I understand Professor Epstein will respond to “Intellectual Property and the Property Rights Movement” by Peter Menell in the next Regulation.

* From the homeland/national security data gathering front, I was very interested in a letter to the editor of Foreign Policy magazine commenting on a recent article called “How to Make a Spy,” by Tim Weiner, and the author’s further gloss on his work. In his letter, Senior Fellow at the National Security Archive John Prados points out insightfully:

Technological mechanisms have been seductive because they pull in vast amounts of data and can be planned for and budgeted. But they are indiscriminate and generate more raw intelligence than we can process, even as they fail to provide the key intelligence from inside the enemy camp.

I’ve often thought that spooks like mass surveillance because it means they don’t have to get out of their chairs and put boots on the ground in dangerous places. But don’t underestimate the closely related urge to work on a stable program whose budget situation is under control.

Responding to other comments, the author of the article says the following:

The lower the public image of the United States abroad, the harder it will be to recruit foreign spies who will divulge secrets out of a shared respect for human values.

Think of water-boarding as cutting one head off a hydra.

* The Boston Globe had an article the other day examining the presidential candidates’ views on executive power. Nothing to do with tech policy, but very important.

* In small ways, we continue to see the market respond to privacy demands. None of these steps alone are sufficient to protect privacy, but each is important progress that carries none of the costs of regulation and legislation.

* Finally, next Christmas, I want a spectrum analyzer that will reveal RFID readers!

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