Thursday, September 18, 2008

Edvige Revisited

So Edvige, the spiffy new high-tech database cooked up to replace the dusty old files of les Renseignements Généraux, has received a quick makeover. Data on sexual behavior will not be collected. Minors may still be included, but information on them will be deleted, supposedly, if they reach 18 without an offense. The whole thing will be submitted to the CNIL for closer scrutiny.

But you have to wonder: how does a major undertaking like this get so far without scrutiny, only to be completely overhauled in a week after a political firestorm forces the president's hand? The government, apparently, would rather appear incompetent than sinister. Surely there must have been internal debates in which some officials argued for the inclusion of what they knew would be controversial information. They carried the day then. The minister who now so eagerly announces the revised plan must have signed off on the original . Was she convinced then that it was well-founded? Or was she simply not paying attention?

She seems to want us to believe the latter. This strains credulity. And until we know why she previously thought it was a good idea to collect more data, can we really be confident that she isn't looking for a surreptitious way to circumvent the decision to collect less? Other databases more hush-hush than Edvige are known to be in the works (Cristina, for one). What's in them? Why are they needed? There's something awfully unconvincing about the quick turnaround on Edvige.

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