Public’s privacy is on the line — pdf
“Protecting anonymity isn’t a fight that can be won,” Donald Kerr, the principal deputy director of national intelligence, said in a speech last month at an intelligence conference, the contents of which only now have come to light. “Anyone that’s typed in their name on Google understands that.”
Privacy, he concluded, “is a system of laws, rules and customs with an infrastructure of inspectors general, oversight committees and privacy boards on which our intelligence community commitment is based and measured.”
This Orwellian outlook comes as the Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to vote Thursday on whether telecom companies should be granted immunity for assisting the Bush administration in its warrantless spying program.
To see whether Kerr’s position is shared by others, I ventured to the well-heeled, macchiato-drinking community of Brentwood, where I figured people would take matters of privacy especially seriously.
It’s been my experience that people with lots of money and lots of lawyers tend to be the touchiest about intrusions into their private lives.
[...] If you want to give away the store on your MySpace page, so be it. But that’s your choice. Neither the government nor corporate entities have any business poking around your personal life without probable cause, and that means a court warrant.
As for anonymity being dead, tell that to the oil-industry bigwigs who met with Vice President Dick Cheney around the time of the California power crisis in 2001 to discuss national energy policy. Cheney and Bush say the names of meeting participants need to be kept under wraps to protect their privacy so they can dispense candid advice.
Anonymity is clearly very much alive when it suits the administration’s needs.
In his speech, Kerr called for a “productive debate” that “focuses on privacy as a component of appropriate levels of security and public safety.”
We’ve already had that debate. The result was the legal concept of due process. Nothing’s changed.