Too much data

Snowden: Paris showed mass surveillance doesn’t stop terrorism

This month’s Paris shootings demonstrated that mass surveillance doesn’t stop terrorist attacks, Edward Snowden has claimed in an interview with Dutch broadcaster NOS. “France passed one of the most intrusive, expansive surveillance laws in all of Europe last year and it didn’t stop the attack, and this is consistent with what we’ve seen in every country,” the NSA whistleblower said. French authorities knew about the Paris attackers but didn’t predict what they ultimately did. Snowden pointed out that U.S. authorities knew about the Boston bombers, but that didn’t actually stop the attack. “The problem with mass surveillance is that you’re burying people under too much data,” he said, echoing arguments that others have made about the “base rate fallacy”.

7 Responses to “Snowden: Paris showed mass surveillance doesn’t stop terrorism”

  1. It’s an inane argument. An analogy would be to say that people still die in automobile accidents so seatbelts are pointless and ineffectual. Showing something is not 100% effective does not make a good case for it being useless.
    And before anyone climbs on my back for having said something I did not please note what I’m actually saying. I made no claims about the actual efficacy of surveillance. I’m just saying this particular reasoning has no merit.

    • Seatbelts are not a good analogy, because they are not sensors. Surveillance is sensing. You don’t have to allocate a limited amount of attention across 100,000,000 seatbelts: they work by themselves, passively. If I’m in an accident, the seat belt does its thing automatically. By contrast, if I have 2000 closed circuit televisions, they don’t do me any good until I have some eyeballs in front of the CCTVs. And eyeballs that I put on CCTV 1 aren’t on CCTV 2.

      So IMO this reasoning does have merit.

    • Nigel Tolley

      The other issue, beside the trivial cost of a seatbelt compared to the cost of no seatbelt, vs destroying our freedoms compared to saving a few dozen lives a decade, is that the seatbelt is a personal choice.
      I can opt out of wearing a seatbelt, & it’s protection, at little cost beyond a fine, unless it isn’t in place when needed. You can’t opt out of mass surveillance! (Well, you can, but it just brings more attention)

      • domain047

        a few dozen lives? I don’t agree with a many of the security decisions but come on! I hope you have down some research on reasons why we should have security in the first place!