Reflections on the Surveillance State Part II
"Edward Snowden is a traitor" - The United States Government
" All propaganda has to be popular and has to accommodate itself to the comprehension of the least intelligent of those whom it seeks to reach." - Adolf Hitler
"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 him for - or blackmail him with. Privacy is important because without it, surveillance information will be abused; to peep, to sell to marketers and to spy on political enemies.
Privacy protects us from abuses by those in power, even if we are 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.
For if we are observed in all matters, we are constantly under threat of correction, judgment, criticism, even plagiarism of our own uniqueness. We become children, fettered under watchful eyes, constantly fearful that either now or in the uncertain future patterns we leave behind will be brought back to implicate us by whatever authority has now become focused upon our once private and innocent acts.
How many of us have paused during conversations in the recent past since 9/11/01, suddenly aware that we might be eavesdropped upon ? We stop suddenly, momentarily afraid that our words might be taken out of context. Then we laugh at our paranoia and go on. But our demeanor has changed, and our words are subtly altered.
This is the loss of freedom we face when our privacy is taken from us. This is life in former East Germany at the hands of the Stasi or life in Saddam Hussein's Iraq. And it will be our future if we allow our government 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 the threat of foreign physical attack or under constant domestic authoritarian scrutiny, is still tyranny. Liberty requires security without intrusion, in other words security PLUS privacy. Widespread police and governmental surveillance is the very definition of a police state. And that's why we should champion privacy even when we have nothing to hide." -William van Zwanenberg
Remember what we have lost. Plan for the day when we seek to retrieve what we have lost.