by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
government, jim dempsey, privacy

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.

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  1. identicon
    abc gum, 19 Dec 2010 @ 8:56am


    "why then are American military personnel fighting and dying to bring these freedoms to other parts of the world"

    This is a very good question.

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