The average, technologically connected American worker produces some 5,000 megabytes of digital data a day, enough to fill nine CD-ROMs. Only a small fraction of it is stored permanently or is clearly related to a specific identity, but the sheer volume of digital exhaust that is daily life has turned privacy into an endangered entity–and a growing national security concern.
On Wednesday, the military’s Defense Advanced Projects Research Agency, or DARPA, put out an agency announcement on a program that seeks to restore some semblance of privacy to the online world. The so-called Brandeis program, named after the late U.S. Supreme Court associate justice and privacy advocate Louis Brandeis, seeks to build “information systems that can ensure private data can only be used for its intended purpose and no other.”
Privacy deprivation may be a fact of modern, interconnected life, but if passwords, files, and personal-location data can’t be protected, then neither can vital pieces of information. That vulnerability can contribute to industrial theft and sabotage and worse, and the recent Sony hack and CENTCOM Twitter snafu foreshadowed this naked future. It’s the military’s job to protect the country from national security threats. Question is: In the wake of the Edward Snowden scandal and what it revealed about NSA data collection practices and capabilities, how much does anyone trust the military to, essentially, build them a privacy machine?