Yesterday, Just Security editor David Cole spoke with United States Court of Appeals Judge Richard Posner about the value of privacy. The short and fascinating discussion, part of a Georgetown University Law Center event on Cybercrime and the Fourth Amendment, can be found here.

PCWorld also provided additional reporting on the event, with more details on their respective positions. Posner has taken a consistent line on the relative value of privacy in the context of data collection. In 2005, he said:

The collection, mainly through electronic means, of vast amounts of personal data is said to invade privacy. But machine collection and processing of data cannot, as such, invade privacy. Because of their volume, the data are first sifted by computers, which search for names, addresses, phone numbers, etc., that may have intelligence value. This initial sifting, far from invading privacy (a computer is not a sentient being), keeps most private data from being read by any intelligence officer.