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Hypergene MediaBlog » Big Brother's Big Brother
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Big Brother's Big Brother

Who said the MIT Media Lab is dead (Wired, maybe)?

In a stroke of inspiration, folks toiling away deep in a Cambridge computer lab have come up with a brilliant idea: Be a Big Brother to Big Brother.

From the Boston Globe:

Annoyed by the prospect of a massive new federal surveillance system, two researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are celebrating the Fourth of July with a new Internet service that will let citizens create dossiers on government officials.

The system will start by offering standard background information on politicians, but then go one bold step further, by asking Internet users to submit their own intelligence reports on government officials—reports that will be published with no effort to verify their accuracy.

In a world filled with the Bush Administration’s increasing “perception management,” the Press seems less able to effectively function as watchdog. While this effort might be too audacious to work (either technically or in practice), it is an important experiment as to how our democracy might inform and protect itself in the future.

"If total information exists,” he said, “really the same effort should be spent to make the same information at the leadership level at least as transparent—in my opinion, more transparent.” - Co-creator and graduate student Ryan McKinley
One note: We enjoyed the comment about user-submitted GIA reports, which “will be published with no effort to verify their accuracy.” It is an important point but ironic since it is not raised about the prospective TIA project, which is riddled with civil rights issues.

Posted on Jul 08, 2003 | 2:10 am EST

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