January 27, 2004

Some More Comments on Declan’s Look At Dean [7:09 pm]

As followup to this morning’s posting, see Donna’s and especially Larry’s comments.

Ed Felten has even more to say, even if he doesn’t want to get political, and jumps directly into an explanation of why "technology & policy" is such a crucial perspective to develop: Dean’s Smart-Card Speech

The fact is that there is a deep disconnect between the different sections of Dean’s speech. It’s hard to reconcile the privacy-is-paramount part of the speech with the smartcards-everywhere part. At least, it’s hard to reconcile them if you really understand the technology. Dean makes a compelling argument that computer security is important, and he makes an equally compelling argument in favor of preserving privacy. But how can we have both? Enter the smartcard as deus ex machina. It sounds good, but unfortunately it’s not a technically sound argument.

Now, nobody expects state governors to understand technology well enough to spot the technical flaws in Dean’s speech. Probably, nobody advising Dean at the time had the knowledge to notice the problem. That’s not good; but it hardly makes Dean unique.

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