posted on Sep, 1 2003 @ 06:29 PM
There is this moment toward the otherwise forgettable end of "Star Trek V: The Final Frontier" when this alien creature patterned after the Wizard
of Oz has even Spock convinced that it is God with a capital "G." They are just about to fire-up the Enterprise and take "God" back to Earth when
Kirk -- probably hoping to avoid the military protocol involved with having a deity on the bridge -- asks a pivotal question: Why would God need a
starship? Couldn't God just blink and instantly be in Times Square looking up at the NASDAQ sign, wondering why they cut windows into a video screen?
This scene of the skeptical Kirk flashed in my mind this week as I read about Carnivore, the FBI's system for reading the e-mail of bad guys.
Carnivore is a sealed box that is installed at the network operations center of an Internet Service Provider. It filters packets, finds e-mail going
to and from identified criminals, and saves that e-mail for later decryption and analysis. What bothers the Internet Service Providers is they have no
control over the Carnivore box, and no way of protecting the privacy of all the customers who aren't drug lords or escaped felons. What bothers the
American Civil Liberties Union is the likelihood that individuals will not only lose their right to privacy, but lose it in a new and insidious way.