Friday, 4 January 2013
Did I Make the List?
busy trap are proud of their never-ending to-do lists. Under the pressure of publish or peril, some of us in the academia love counting and recounting items on our publication and citation lists. And a few years ago there was a movie about bucket lists. In recent years, however, instead of placing objects or goals on lists, we have been increasingly putting people on undisclosed lists. After 9/11, there have been concerns that the US government has expanded surveillance on anyone in the world, even people who are just passing through, or communicating everyday matters. People of certain religious affiliations, ethnic backgrounds, countries of birth, or political ideologies have filled various watch lists – some reportedly even got questioned or detained by the National Securities Agency (NSA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) without proper legal representation. While one list that I like when flying is the upgrade list (which I rarely get on – sigh), the no-fly list is probably the more populated one, even if less popular and largely impossible to get off. a national database of “lunatics”. Sure, it’s ironic, as the group has always fought against a gun registry. Many who have been horrified by the recent Newtown tragedy and shocked by the group’s subsequent responses may wonder if the NRA members themselves would qualify for their desired list. I will save the issues of lumping people with various forms and severities of mental illness together into one list and calling them “lunatics” for a later post. And many have already reported on various good reasons to have stricter domestic gun control and global arms trade, and to ensure that certain people do not handle or own firearms. What is worth noting here is that, while some are appalled by NRA’s potentially discriminatory suggestion, most states already require or authorize the use of mental health records for firearm background check, lapses in reporting notwithstanding. The culture of violence and war in the US and around the world certainly requires change. As I ponder on that for another post, I wonder if people knew that the aforementioned health-record lists are already being shared, and if we were not aware of that, why it might be the case. Should we have such a list, and if so, who do you think should be on this list? What criteria do you think we should use to place people on the list, and what type of information should we include on each person? Are you concerned about privacy implications or misuse of information? Or do you trust that the government or parties with access to such data would only collect and use this information in appropriate ways? How would you balance the rights and limits to privacy? Or do you think that this list only affects people with mental illness, and if we don’t (think we) have one, we have nothing to worry about anyway? What about other lists that you may or may not even know about? The List; No-Fly List; Health Records Hacker