January 20th, 2007

Protecting Privacy

Privacy

One of the books I’m reading (as you can see on the sidebar) is Constitutional Chaos: What Happens When the Government Breaks its Own Laws, written by Judge Andrew P. Napolitano. This book is an awesome asset in understanding how the government, in the name of “national security” and “upholding the law”, has repeatedly broken the law and ignored (if not trampled) the Constitution.

The book reviews example after example (probably 40+, I might guess) of such instances. Being a former judge and the current Senior Judicial Analyst for Fox News, Napolitano has seen it all and reports on a number of court cases and political scenarios when persons in authority broke the law.

One section of the book discusses the government’s invasion upon our privacy. The subject of privacy invasion is one of profound importance, but unfortunately is treated with saturated apathy by the populace. Many people spew the ignorant, dangerous argument that “I don’t have anything to hide, so why should I care if the government invades my privacy?” In answer to such nonsense, Napolitano writes the following:

Most Americans don’t want the government to know of their personal behavior; not because we have anything to hide, but because we don’t live in the former East Germany or the old Soviet Union; because government in a free society is supposed to serve the people, not spy on them; because without probable cause, without some demonstrable evidence of some personal criminal behavior, the Constitution declares that our personal lives are none of the government’s business. (Andrew P. Napolitano, Constitutional Chaos: What Happens When the Government Breaks its Own Laws, p. 148)

John’s comment on a previous post is equally telling:

I think people need to realize the slippery slope that privacy invasion threatens, and the possibilities that open up once privacy is surrendered. Most will counter that they don’t mind because they have nothing to hide, but this premise assumes that the interrogator is benevolent, and isn’t hiding something himself. :)

Indeed, as Napolitano says on page 127 of his book, “Unless you work for it, sell to it, or receive financial assistance from it, the government is not your friend.

Among a myriad of other invasions of privacy, the government can open your mail, listen in on your cell phone, and track you using RFID.

Gone are the days when agents of the government were required to obtain a warrant to invade the privacy of a citizen. Gone are the days when such warrants were narrow in scope (as mandated by the Constitution), only allowing officials to invade one’s privacy for a specific purpose that was supported with reasonable evidence. Gone are the days when one could feel protected by the government, rather than suspicious of its actions and intentions.

We must protect privacy. It doesn’t matter if our phone conversations, mail, and emails are innocuous. We must uphold and defend the liberties secured to us by this country’s founding documents. Once those are abused (which they have been repeatedly), it becomes easier to further abuse, ignore, and ultimately destroy them.

We’re headed down that path. What will we do?

Read quotes about “government” on Quoty

One Response to “Protecting Privacy”

  1. Jettboy
    January 21, 2007 at 4:28 pm #

    Gone are the days when agents of the government were required to obtain a warrant to invade the privacy of a citizen. Gone are the days when such warrants were narrow in scope (as mandated by the Constitution), only allowing officials to invade one’s privacy for a specific purpose that was supported with reasonable evidence. Gone are the days when one could feel protected by the government, rather than suspicious of its actions and intentions.

    I think you have to look into the movitation of people who aren’t worried about invasion of privacy. That last sentence is the clencher that can determine how a person reacts. We are a voyer (sp?) society, and no longer believe in privacy as a sustainable reality. Lots of people these days are making money by forgoing privacy in their own lives.

    Today “personal privacy” means what you can do, and not what one can see or know about another. Even the MSM has subtley declared that if secrecy is bad for the government, than it is bad for the individual; and therefore both should be watched and be the watchers. On top of that is the idea that a person hiding something from the government is more dangerous than the government. Many feel that if information can save lives, than lives are more important than privacy.

    In other words, it might sound like people should be upset this is happening. Outside of a few with raised eyebrows, most people see the disintegration of personal privacy (as in closed lives) as both normal and necessary for a safe society. Those same people (as implied by the East Germany and USSR comment) are very serious about Personal Liberty. They do not see them as the same thing. They believe it is fine if people look in the window, but don’t open the door.

    It is a very complicated nuance of attitudes that is neither Liberal or Conservative in viewpoint. That isn’t to say that both sides won’t use it against the other when it serves their purpose. What it does mean is that “privacy” no longer has the same meaning. And, many don’t see the new definition as a problem. That means an uphill battle for those who liked the meaning the way it was.

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