Monday, November 12, 2007

From my cold dead hands

Or, Amendment IV, redux

It becomes even more obvious that the executive branch has no comprehension of the privacy implications of the Constitution. The Supreme Court has ruled time and again in support of personal privacy. This has often gone against various national intelligence agencies' agendas, but now they are pushing to throw personal privacy right out. In a recent speech, the principal deputy director of national intelligence has said we shouldn't have privacy from the government and private companies; we should trust them not to misuse private information.

Just focusing on his speech for a moment, he brings in a number of non-sequiturs:

  • "Those two generations younger than we are have a very different idea of what is essential privacy, what they would wish to protect about their lives and affairs." - There is a very big difference between a person talking about their private information and private information being taken without one's consent.
  • "[People are] perfectly willing for a green-card holder at an (Internet service provider) who may or may have not have been an illegal entrant to the United States to handle their data." - Where do I begin? What does privacy have to do with the immigration debate? Are illegal immigrants the only people ISPs employ? What is an ISP doing monitoring my traffic? As for that last one, I know there is no binding net neutrality legislation (yet), but as has been shown in the recent Comcast and AT & T kurfluffles, ISP customers expect traffic agnostic internet connections.
  • "Our job now is to engage in a productive debate, which focuses on privacy as a component of appropriate levels of security and public safety. I think all of us have to really take stock of what we already are willing to give up" - Not a non-sequitur, its actually a false dichotomy. My privacy and other rights are independent of my and this nation's security. "Those who are willing to give up their civil liberties to preserve their safety, deserve neither and will lose both." - Ben Franklin.

If our founding fathers knew that this would happen after all of their sacrifices, we would still be part of England. There are hundreds of issues with these statements. The biggest issue is the call to "just trust us." I'm sure the veterans, the TSA workers, and who knows who else trust the government's handling of private information. I also don't trust what the government will do with that information: a) I don't know how they will sift through it all, b) I don't want to pay someone to do that sifting, and c) what will keep the false positive (whatever constitutes a positive...) rate down?

Thus I will keep my anonymizing and encryption tools, and, as Charlton Heston was known to say in defense of another Constitutional amendment (although I don't completely agree with his views on that): You can pry my software from my cold dead hands.

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