Big Larry is watching you

April 14th, 2002 § Comments off

Today’s New York Times Magazine included a great article about Silicon Valley’s post-September 11 rush to help the federal government track its citizens (l/p: pinchydotorg), including a scary interview with some Oracle executives:

As the databases are consolidated, I asked, who should decide the proper balance between privacy and access? How do you avoid a situation in which someone could be kept off a plane because he had skipped jury duty or had an overdue parking ticket? A hush fell over the room, and people looked awkwardly at their sandwiches.

Finally [Tim Hoechst, a senior vice president for technology at Oracle,] spoke up. “You’ll notice that we all became suspiciously quiet when we started talking about policy questions,” he said. “At Oracle, we leave that to our customers to decide. We become a little stymied when we start talking about the ‘should wes’ and the ‘whys’ and the ‘hows,’ because it’s not our expertise.”

The Tom Lehrer song about the Nazi rocket scientist who defected to America popped into my head: “‘Once ze rockets are up, who cares where they come down?/That’s not my department,’ says Wernher von Braun.”

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