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Continued: Readers Write: (Aug. 28): Syria, oil pipeline, data privacy, teaching, grammar

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  • Last update: August 27, 2013 - 7:11 PM

ROBERT BARTON, Cohasset, Minn.

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Strike balance before there’s a backlash

As a retired county attorney and former member of the Criminal Justice Information Task Force, I understand the concerns expressed in a recent editorial about the proliferation of lawsuits for improper access to information (“Rein in rising costs of data snooping,” Aug. 24).

However, the timing concerns me. We are seeing a massive increase in information stored and sources thereof: license plate readers, facial recognition software, surveillance cameras, integrated data systems that are searchable in an instant, and the software allowing the integrated searching of various systems. Linking of public and private data systems (merchant files on shoplifters, bad-check writers and others) is an example of the breadth of the data available.

Yes, the costs of misuse of these systems could be significant to the government, but also to the individual whose data is compromised.

We need to confront these issues and find ways to permit the use of information by law enforcement but guarantee the privacy of the subjects of data. If we don’t, as evidenced in the current NSA situation, we could see a backlash that would eliminate such data.


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House calls: An old idea, back around

Home visits are not such a new idea (“Making house calls, teachers build ties,” Aug. 26). Years ago, I was a fourth-grade teacher who was routinely invited to the homes of my students for lunch. Back then students were allowed to walk home for lunch. These visits allowed teacher, parents and students to get to know one another. A side benefit was the delicious lunches served. St. Paul will definitely continue to reap the benefits of this practice.


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