My favourite among the linked McNealy quotes is, "I'm tired of the outrage. If you get on a plane, I want to know who you are. If you rent a crop duster, I want to know who you are."
To this, I can only say, "Too bad." That others want to know something about you is not enough to show that they should be free to know it. It appears that the terms under which we are to live together are moving from, "Your right to throw punches ends at my nose," to, "Your rights end at my fear." The problem with these (yes, I'm going to say it) fascistic appeals to law and order is that they never have a real procedure for watching the watchmen. No matter what you think of Stallman's license policies, his re-iteration of the ancient Roman question is not something we should ignore.
All over, simple traditional legal rights, such as the right to silence, are being
undermined. Much of the reasoning is misinformed or lousy, and there is only one way to stop it: for those of us wealthy and likely-to-vote enough to make noise about it. It is just wrong for us to forsake all of the civil liberties that have accumulated since the Magna Carta for the dubious peace of mind that identity cards and heavy-handed state control might offer.
A little reflection on the fate of the various police states of the past 50 years might do us some good right now. No matter how clever your scheme, you cannot prevent people from trying to undermine it. That's because no scheme can be perfectly automated: someone can always figure out a way to make the scheme fail to notice some new subversive activity. Therefore, unless you want two or three skilled watchers for every watched -- the perfect reductio if ever there was one -- you cannot have perfect security. Better, then, to build a society that doesn't have so many attackers. It's by no means impossible; why does it seem so to our leaders? What Sontag said is exactly right: "Who doubts that America is strong? But that's not all America has to be."