Algorithms And The Unknown

Kevin Drum has a very sensible post that simply worries about the literally unprecedented use of complex computer algorithms in determining whether the government can tap your phone or read your emails. Money quote:

For all practical purposes, then, the decision about which U.S. citizens to spy on is being vested in a small group of technicians operating in secret and creating criteria that virtually no one else understands. The new bill requires annual review by Inspectors General of the government's compliance with targeting and minimization procedures, which is better than nothing, but stronger amendments aimed at limiting the targeting of U.S. citizens were specifically rejected.

I agree with Kevin that this is a much bigger deal than retroactive telecom immunity. Government is always most dangerous when it's doing things that the rest of us simply cannot understand.