Sunday, August 12, 2007

Evaporating Privacy - Stand Up

Rights to privacy have been under assault for a number of years. It's the dark side of the great high-tech devices we have all come to depend on and appreciate. Just because we have the technological ability to do certain things doesn't mean we should. Like so many other things that have been going on in the past decade, we just let the potentially bad stuff keep happening without raising holy hell. Soon, personal privacy could be gone and we'll all wonder what happened.

When the Bush administration was found to have unconstitutionally tracked the phone calls of millions of Americans in the name of national security, it was basically greeted by a collective yawn. (Not from everyone. I blogged about it at the time here). Most peoples reaction was along the lines of, "I know I'm not a terrorist so I don't care. If it helps stop a terrorist strike, go ahead". Wrong response.

First, it doesn't matter whether you are innocent of terrorism or even any other offense. If you don't protect your rights, you lose them. For instance, because you don't commit crimes doesn't mean you agree to give up your right to habeas corpus... oh... my bad. You did! Secondly, and more insidiously, once you have allowed a government to begin a program like this without any legal safeguards, it is disingenuous to expect that it will only be used for what it is ostensibly meant for. Opponents of the government will, and should, expect to be targeted for surveillance - in any aspect of their private lives. Even average Americans could fall victim to someone in a position to spy on them, assuming that person holds a real or imagined grudge.

This chilling story comes from China. But based on the direction we have been headed for some time, it's reasonable to assume that similar things are on tap for us right here in Western democratic societies. Ask yourself - is this something you would want the present administration implementing on the streets of America? I'm guessing that most clear thinking folks living under any government, in any country, would not want it. Speak up or it will happen. It's coming.

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