From 'Government Aims to Build a 'Data Eye in the Sky'' by John Markoff in the NYT -
The most optimistic researchers believe that ... storehouses of 'big data' ["the vast resources of the Internet — Web searches and Twitter messages, Facebook and blog posts, the digital location trails generated by billions of cellphones"] will for the first time reveal sociological laws of human behavior — enabling them to predict political crises, revolutions and other forms of social and economic instability, just as physicists and chemists can predict natural phenomena.And in who'dathunkit territory, 'The Invisible Man: How the Sex Offender Registry Results in Social Death'(forthcoming in The Journal of Law and Social Deviance) by Elizabeth Megale argues - unoriginally - that
“This is a significant step forward,” said Thomas Malone, the director of the Center for Collective Intelligence at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “We have vastly more detailed and richer kinds of data available as well as predictive algorithms to use, and that makes possible a kind of prediction that would have never been possible before.”
The government is showing interest in the idea. This summer a little-known intelligence agency began seeking ideas from academic social scientists and corporations for ways to automatically scan the Internet in 21 Latin American countries for “big data,” according to a research proposal being circulated by the agency. The three-year experiment, to begin in April, is being financed by the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity, or Iarpa (pronounced eye-AR-puh), part of the office of the director of national intelligence.
The automated data collection system is to focus on patterns of communication, consumption and movement of populations. It will use publicly accessible data, including Web search queries, blog entries, Internet traffic flow, financial market indicators, traffic webcams and changes in Wikipedia entries.
It is intended to be an entirely automated system, a “data eye in the sky” without human intervention, according to the program proposal. The research would not be limited to political and economic events, but would also explore the ability to predict pandemics and other types of widespread contagion, something that has been pursued independently by civilian researchers and by companies like Google.
Some social scientists and advocates of privacy rights are deeply skeptical of the project, saying it evokes queasy memories of Total Information Awareness, a post-9/11 Pentagon program that proposed hunting for potential attackers by identifying patterns in vast collections of public and private data: telephone calling records, e-mail, travel data, visa and passport information, and credit card transactions.
“I have Total Information Awareness flashbacks when things like this happen,” said David Price, an anthropologist at St. Martin’s University in Lacey, Wash., who has written about cooperation between social scientists and intelligence agencies. “On the one hand it’s understandable for a nation-state to want to track things like the outbreak of a pandemic, but I have to wonder about the total automation of this and what productive will come of it.”
Iarpa officials declined to discuss the research program, saying they are prohibited from giving interviews until contract awards are made later this year.
A similar project by their military sister organization, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or Darpa, aims to automatically identify insurgent social networks in Afghanistan.
In its most recent budget proposal, the defense agency argues that its analysis can expose terrorist cells and other stateless groups by tracking their meetings, rehearsals and sharing of material and money transfers.
over-criminalization serves to marginalize unwanted groups of society, and particularly regarding the sex offender registry, it results in social death. The author relies upon the notion of crime as a social construct to establish that the concept of “sex offense” changes over time as society and culture evolve. From there, the author incorporates the work of Michele [sic] Foucault involving the relationship of power, knowledge, and sexuality to show how the trend toward more repressive social controls over sex-related activity is related to a shift in this relationship. The Author identifies three characteristics and the associated traits which arise when over-criminalization exists, and further shows how these characteristics and traits are present with respect to the sex offender registry.Alas, Michele is a typo ... Megale hasn't discovered Foucault's long-lost scribbling sister.
This Article offers critical insight into the relationship between over-criminalization and repressive control systems and concludes that over-criminalization exists when repressive governmental controls seize power and render non-existent informal social controls. It follows that the sex offender registry is a repressive governmental control that has concentrated power in the government and criminal laws while shifting power away from informal social controls to result in the social death of those unwanted, those labeled sex offender.
Megale argues that the "characteristics of Overcriminalization" are invulnerability to restraint from other social institutions, extraordinary Power/Lack of Internal Restraint and Structured Interest. The Sex Offender Registry is Overcriminalization because the Registry is a Repressive Control System, it is invulnerable to restraint from other social institutions, it is part of a system of extraordinary power for suppressing deviance with a concomitant lack of internal restraint and has resulted from the high degree of political and economic interest in apprehending and processing sex offenders.
Megale concludes that as "a Result of the Registry, the Traits of Overcriminalization have Emerged": The registry is overly punitive and facilitates mass incarceration and the registry creates social stigma and causes social death.