US Government Talks The Talk On Privacy & Civil Liberties, But Isn't Walking The Walk

from the some-good,-some-bad dept

The federal government very often seems to say one thing when it comes to privacy and civil liberties, while doing exactly the opposite. The Commerce Department has come out with a new report calling for a Privacy Policy Office that will look at commercial use of personal information, to make sure that privacy is protected. At the same time, President Obama has nominated Jim Dempsey to serve on the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, which is supposed to "review the civil liberties impact of anti-terrorism policies and programs." There are few people who I think would be better for the job. For a while now, Dempsey has been president for public policy of the Center for Democracy and Technology, a group that has fought, quite strongly, for civil liberties in the technology arena. Apparently, President Bush also nominated Dempsey for the same board... but the Senate never bothered to confirm him (or anyone that Bush nominated for the board).

Of course, it seems odd to see our government pushing for privacy and civil liberties at the same time that it's been working so hard to dismantle many aspects of the 4th Amendment, which is used to protect Americans' privacy. It makes you realize that many of the decision makers in the government probably don't even realize how its actions have regularly gone against the 4th Amendment and basic civil liberties. The administration seems to be offering lip service to the concept of privacy -- and I have little doubt that they actually mean what they say. But, what they don't realize is how their actions, when it comes to specific situations, appear to violate those very concepts. In many ways, it's like those who crusade for stronger copyright laws, but regularly infringe themselves. They rationalize it away, by saying that there's a "good reason" for doing what they do, without realizing that it highlights what appears to be hypocrisy between their words and their actions.

Filed Under: government, jim dempsey, privacy

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  1. identicon
    Michael, 20 Dec 2010 @ 5:16am


    "The current world situation, where war is no waged by huge armies but rather one idiot with a bomb at a time means that the entire premise of much of the constitution of the US actually makes it very much at risk for attacks from the enemy. 9/11 is an example of people using the US systems, rules, and policies to inflict death and suffering upon a significant number of people."

    That was also the world at the time the US was born. The difference is that WE were the terrorists at the time (tea party anyone?). What you are talking about is much more a difference of perspective. I would never defend the attack on the World Trade Center, or any attacks for that matter, but you are saying that the world is different when it is our perspective of the world that has changed.

    It is important to remember that turning our country into a military state by taking away our privacy, our free press, and our free speech is in the best interests of our government and our enemies - not our people. What we are seeing with our bill of rights being degraded to defend against terrorists is what has happened to degrade every great democratic society into an empire.

    Cesar was appointed to make decisions rather than the elected officials in Rome because foreign threats attacked their way of life. This did not happen overnight. It was a slow decay of democracy. This process may actually be inevitable - it seems to have happened to every great society that lasted long enough. As people in this society, it is our job to slow the process as much as possible.

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