Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Virginians Fear Increased Surveillance amid New Database

In today’s increasingly small world, it seems that everywhere we go someone is taking note, watching what we do. As we observe technology progressing, it becomes harder to believe in the words openness and transparency.

According to The Daily Progress, the Commonwealth of Virginia has recently been putting together an identity database for multiple state agencies to utilize. The information for this directory is being garnered from the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

While this database will provide a more thorough defense against fraud and provide greater convenience for completing government documents, many have expressed concern about such a vast record of identities, including myself.

Several critics have expressed fear that this database could be used for purposes which extend from its original intent if put in the wrong hands.
According to Billy Mitchell, a writer for InTheCapital.com, Virginians may see scrutiny from more than just Big Brother.

“Virginia residents may have to worry about more than just the federal government spying on them soon,” Mitchell wrote. “According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, using (DMV) records, the commonwealth plans to construct a massive identity database of Virginia residents for use by state agencies.”

Admittedly, the program seems to be harmless and appears to provide protection against deceitful dealings online.

“So far, the intentions seem genuine and good natured, with the main purpose of this state enterprise record being to prevent fraudulent transactions in the growing number of online government services,” Mitchell said. “For instance, if Virginia residents elect to enroll in the Affordable Care Act, this database would essentially verify that someone is who they say they are.”

As I watch technology advance at a rapid pace, I cannot help but wonder where our nation, and the world for that matter, is headed. With intelligence agencies exceeding capabilities no one ever thought possible, it seems that our actions are being recorded daily, if not hourly, as is the case with big data storage.

According to James Bamford of Wired Magazine, the NSA is building a data center in Utah meant to handle yottabytes of information. For those who are not left brained, myself included, a yottabyte of information is a septillion bytes, so large the next magnitude has not even been named yet.

With Virginia building a giant database of information regarding the 8 million residents it holds, we must be ever cautious and mindful that with great power comes great responsibility. While we should have faith in our government, it is like what Ronald Reagan said: Trust but verify.

As 2014 approaches, it is my hope that even while technology develops at a dizzying rate and masses of intelligence are gathered, we as a people will remember what is important in this lifetime. Putting the values this country was founded on first in our lives is something we can never be unconcerned with.

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