Schneier on Privacy

Wired has an article by Bruce Schneier on the topic of surveillance and privacy. He makes the argument that NSA spying is tyranny and that privacy is such a basic human need that the framers of the Constitution & Bill of Rights didn’t think there would be a need to spell it out beyond the language of the 4th amendment.

Cardinal Richelieu understood the value of surveillance when he famously said, “If one would give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest man, I would find something in them to have him hanged.” Watch someone long enough, and you’ll find something to arrest — or just blackmail — with. Privacy is important because without it, surveillance information will be abused: to peep, to sell to marketers and to spy on political enemies — whoever they happen to be at the time.

Privacy protects us from abuses by those in power, even if we’re doing nothing wrong at the time of surveillance.

We do nothing wrong when we make love or go to the bathroom. We are not deliberately hiding anything when we seek out private places for reflection or conversation. We keep private journals, sing in the privacy of the shower, and write letters to secret lovers and then burn them. Privacy is a basic human need.

A future in which privacy would face constant assault was so alien to the framers of the Constitution that it never occurred to them to call out privacy as an explicit right. Privacy was inherent to the nobility of their being and their cause. Of course being watched in your own home was unreasonable. Watching at all was an act so unseemly as to be inconceivable among gentlemen in their day. You watched convicted criminals, not free citizens. You ruled your own home. It’s intrinsic to the concept of liberty.

I want to be the master of my domain, but it appears that George Bush would prefer to be master of my domain (and his). Isn’t it ironic that a guy who is supposedly so concerned with the plight of those poor, downtrodden Iraqis, is quickly – nay, desperately - building a fascist state far more frightening and controlling than anything Saddam ever had? How strange. It’s almost as if every justification for invading Iraq was a lie. But that couldn’t be true? The mainstream media still treats him like a president, worshipfully talking about his every decision as if it was delivered from on high. Certainly they would treat him like that if it turned out he was a tyrannical psychopath bent on world domination through control of oil supply (and oil routes). Unless the media is in on the plan….

This is the loss of freedom we face when our privacy is taken from us. This is life in former East Germany, or life in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. And it’s our future as we allow an ever-intrusive eye into our personal, private lives.

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.

Yes, he basically called Bush as bad as Saddam. While that may not be the case (yet), it’s not for lack of trying. Don’t fool yourself into thinking Bush shares the democratic ideals that he so often claims to defend. No, Bush is a fascist to his core, just like Saddam. There’s no rule that says that just because you were born in America that you automatically believe in freedom and democracy. Everyone believes in freedom…for themselves. Whether they believe in freedom for everyone else is a completely different question. Bush’s NSA spying plan is a slap in the face of 300 million Americans and the ideals of Libery, Freedom and Democracy for which thousands of men and women have died throughout American history. He has made a mockery of our democratic traditions while relentlessly expanding the power of the presidency by making Congress nothing more than a rubber stamp parliament. He’s let his corporate buddies run wild, with lobbyists writing laws and lawmakers not even reading them before voting in favor of them. He’s launched wars of conquest and invasion. He’s started spying programs that violate the letter and the spirit of the Constitution. This man is a menace. He should be impeached immediately, and imprisoned thereafter.

Such a man deserves death for his crimes. There are others, you know. We’ve only scratched the surface of this administration’s malfeasance.


 

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