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IPFS News Link • Privacy Rights

The Eternal Value of Privacy

The most common retort against privacy advocates -- by those in favor of ID checks, cameras, databases, data mining and other wholesale surveillance measures -- is this line: "If you aren't doing anything wrong, what do you have to hide?" Some clever answers: "If I'm not doing anything wrong, then you have no cause to watch me." "Because the government gets to define what's wrong, and they keep changing the definition." "Because you might do something wrong with my information." My problem with quips like these -- as right as they are -- is that they accept the premise that privacy is about hiding a wrong. It's not. Privacy is an inherent human right, and a requirement for maintaining the human condition with dignity and respect. Two proverbs say it best: Quis custodiet custodes ipsos? ("Who watches the watchers?") and "Absolute power corrupts absolutely."

2 Comments in Response to

Comment by Sterling Rand
Entered on:

"... Too many wrongly characterize the debate as 'security versus
> privacy.' The real choice is liberty versus control. Tyranny, whether it
> arises under threat of foreign physical attack or under constant
> domestic authoritative scrutiny, is still tyranny. Liberty requires
> security without intrusion, security plus privacy. Widespread police
> surveillance is the very definition of a police state. And that's why we
> should champion privacy even when we have nothing to hide."

Comment by Ross Wolf
Entered on:

Members in the Obama Government appear bent on invading the privacy of U.S. Citizens and curtailing Citizens’ rights, especially Free Speech and Opinions. It was reported Top Obama Czar Cass Sunstein Proposed Infiltrating all 'Conspiracy Theorists' in a paper prepared in 2008—that apparently expressed: Government should infiltrate and spy on Americans, their groups and organizations to obstruct Free Speech, disrupt the exchange of ideas and disseminate false information to neutralize Americans that might question government. See news story:

In 2007 perhaps coincidence: "The Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act", was introduced by Rep. Jane Harman. The bill appeared to mirror a number of Czar Cass Sunstein’s subsequent spying proposals on lawful Citizens and interrupting groups without evidence of wrongdoing. Harman’s bill called for investigating and tracking Americans and groups that might be prone to supporting or committing violent acts of domestic terrorism. Harman’s bill had the potential of driving lawful political and other activists underground. Perhaps creating the domestic terrorists Bush II said Americans needed to be protected from. Rep. Harman's "Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act" when closely examined, defined "homegrown terrorism" as "any planned act" that might use force to coerce U.S. Government or its people to promote or accomplish a "political or social objective." No actual force need occur. Government would only need allege an individual or group thought about it. Rep. Harman’s bill was often called the “Thought Crimes Bill.” The bill failed to pass after Americans became angry upon leaning about it. It is believed but not confirmed a Rand Corporation study provided input to the development of Rep. Jane Harman’s " Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act.