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Wednesday, November 14, 2007


In yet another “I can’t believe he said that” statement, Donald Kerr, principal deputy director of national intelligence, said that “it is time that people of the United States changed their definition of privacy.” In other words give it up because you’ve either lost it or are in the process of losing it anyway. On the latter, we are dangerously nearing the edge, but I for one am not anywhere close to changing my mind about the privacy protections I expect from business and government. We may be over the line now, but a consumer revolt is in the making, and I have faith that the American public will stand up and demand their rights. In Pamela Hess’ Associated Press article, “Intel official: Expect less privacy,” she quotes Kerr, while bringing us up to date on Congressional activity in regard to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). This is the law that required court permission to spy on innocent Americans until Bush came along. Dubya backed off temporarily, but now wants to go ahead again full-bore with surveillance activity comparable to what he gave us in the NSA incident. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer did an excellent editorial on Kerr’s statement discounting his commentary on typing your name into Google being a loss of privacy with the retort: “Google is not comparable to the government sifting through one's private records and listening in on one's phone conversations without going through the proper channels.” The SP-I added: “Even more laughable is the assertion that we should just trust the government and businesses to safeguard their information.” I don’t know about you, but any person as high as Kerr is in the intelligence community that starts musing over the individual’s future privacy expectations makes me very suspicious of what the administration’s next move might be. Big Brother Bush, along with Little Brother Cheney, still have a year to unleash whatever they can conjure up to bring Orwell’s threat to our doorstep. And with a stalled Congress on this issue, including the Democrat majority that has always stood for protecting our individual rights, consumers can only depend on the power of their numbers. You can use those numbers first by contacting your congressional representatives and tell them just how you feel about maintaining your privacy, and if they don’t do something soon, let them know your displeasure when you vote in 2008. Kurt Opsahl, senior staff lawyer with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a privacy advocacy group, says "Anonymity has been important since the Federalist Papers were written under pseudonyms." I researched the Federalists Papers, which were written to garner support for the new U.S. Constitution in 1787, and as is the case in the Constitution itself, there is no specific use of the word “privacy.” Maybe the time has come for a constitutional amendment that would make privacy a guaranteed right of the people, laying the groundwork for granting consumers control over their names and personal data.

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