Technology outpaces law in world of security

The lines are already being drawn over whether to view Edward Snowden, the National Security Agency leaker, as a hero who blew the whistle on a dangerous government intrusion into privacy or a villain who criminally endangered our national security. But the debate over government surveillance should start with a different name: Gordon E. Moore.

Moore is the co-founder of Intel who in 1965 came up with "Moore's Law," which predicted that computing power would double every year. The trend has kept up for two generations and counting, causing exponential growth in computers' ability to process information.

When Moore's Law was conceived, and J. Edgar Hoover was at the height of his power running the FBI, a world in which the government could plausibly suck in all the data created by hundreds of millions of Americans or billions of earthlings was simply beyond imagining. (Well, not completely beyond imagining. George Orwell did a quite good job).