2007 HONORS COURSES
HONR 239R Privacy vs. In-Your-Face
Tuesday/Thursday, 12:30 - 1:45 p.m.
Dr. James Purtilo, Department of Computer Science
Information is a weapon. It is a mechanism of control.
If you know the right information about another person, you know how
to control him; if you keep your own information secure then you maintain
a better sense of control in your own life. Citizens who seek to preserve
an individual's sense of self-determination in a free democratic society
support privacy protections as a strong check on expanding government,
that might otherwise grow to infringe on citizens' ability to oversee
the institution created in their name.
The interests of individual privacy versus government
control have always competed but the dynamic balance between them became
more dynamic in recent years with the advent of computers. New technology
enables government interests in citizen control at the same time it
introduces alternate means for citizens to defend privacy.
This course is intended to tour the competing technologies
and specifically evaluate their interplay with both enumerated and natural
rights. We will study the role of computer in this balancing act and
try to understand the mechanisms underlying the privacy dynamic. Topics
are likely to include:
Rights: what are we talking about protecting in the first place, what
is the basis for an individual's preservation of rights, what are the
interests of government?
Database basics: data mining, profiling.
Tracking: GPS, inventory pins, cameras in surprising places, On-star,
Security: fundamentals of encryption, PGP, anonymity, email/storage
issues, legislation and restrictions.
Law enforcement: privacy protection to do crime, counterterrorism goals,
Commerce: web and network issues, cookies, E-gold.
Biometrics: face scanning, verichip.
Cracking government secrets: PIA, FOIA.
A class project will be to compile a taxonomy of specific
sorts of data that the state (as a case study) routinely maintains on
its citizens. The course requires a term paper evaluating a relevant
technology in depth, illustrating its application and potential for
abuse. Grading will be based on these work-products as well as on a
small number of exams and quizzes. It is our hope to have regular guest
presentations from domain experts. A small number of field trips (e.g.
to National Cryptologic Museum at Ft. Meade) are not out of the question.
A reading packet will be prepared by the professor.
CORE: Interdisciplinary and Emerging Issues [IE]