[FoRK] exactly how much privacy should we have?

Stephen Williams sdw at lig.net
Sun Jun 16 13:56:15 PDT 2013

I would only add that there are some weak laws on invasion of privacy and making private things public that protect 
non-celebrities from individuals somewhat.
There seems no way around the fact that the NSA is doing something fundamentally unconstitutional relative to its (and the 
DoD's) charter.  I suppose you could argue that recent laws have somewhat changed its charter.

> The worst regimes, as Aristotle already noted, do everything they can to keep control by making all private things public. 
> They infiltrate all potential sources of opposition from friendship to clubs. Fear of violent death, as Hobbes would come to 
> say, controls philosophy and religion. The most dangerous man, as Socrates said, is the one who does not fear death, but does 
> fear to do wrong. The Socratic “it is never right to do wrong” is the heart of civilized living, itself open to the transcendent.
> It is dangerous in most countries in the world today, if we find ourselves within their jurisdiction, to describe in public 
> their actual forms of rule. “Hate language” laws replace discourse about /what is./ We must simply approve what the city 
> enforces or keep silence. The trials of /Darkness at Noon/ were designed to prevent even the escape of silence.

In various ways we have occasionally veered a little too close to such mistakes.  Everyone is already making many private things 
public.  This is mostly possible now because far fewer things that relate to personal freedom are illegal or are at least they 
are nearly legal: various sexuality aspects, nudity, cannabis, underage drinking.  And this is mainly because the 
officially-maintained fiction (by officials, religious leaders, and elders) that these things were rare and deviant has fallen 
apart with greater openness, communication, and real science.  The collision we are heading to is use of this information to 
infiltrate and harass people the way Hoover did.  That's not likely to succeed anymore.

Interesting.  From the following, you could argue that the Republican party, by seemingly blindly working to enhance the rich at 
the expense of the poor and middle class, are Communists, or at least Leninists.  Not a good argument maybe, but the match in 
strategy is striking.
> The undermining of the middle classes, Aristotle thought, meant making everyone either rich or poor, nothing in-between. 
> Having the in-between, however, was the very salvation of a common sense polity. Property was to be distributed, acquired, and 
> protected. Lenin suggested that the way to gain complete power was this very undermining of the middle classes so that, once 
> having become poor, they too would look to the state for their salvation. Have our markets been manipulated with this in mind? 
> Not a few suspect so.


On 6/16/13 9:08 AM, mdw at martinwills.com wrote:
> ...
> I've been reading these emails and I believe there are several wrong
> assumptions being made.  I am speaking for the United States citizens
> only.
> 1) The U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights were written to CONSTRAIN the
> U.S. Government.
> 2) The U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights DO NOT refer to or constrain
> U.S. Citizens.
> 3) The NSA since it's creation was mandated to collect intelligence on
> NON-US citizens to protect the U.S. and it's citizens.  The surveillance
> of U.S. Citizens was the sole responsibility of the F.B.I. and only under
> the constitutional constraints found in the 4th and 5th amendments of the
> U.S.  Bill of Rights. (e.g. warrants, probable cause, judicial branch
> approval)
> The collection of any information by any company (non-government
> connected) or person is legal.  The only exceptions are: retaining or
> collecting information when specifically prohibited by the individual; it
> is not required (e.g. signing up for a free email account and being
> required to provide a copy of your drivers license or other state issued
> ID); or it is prohibited (e.g. HIPAA compliance). That is why you have to
> scroll/read through 5 pages of legal agreement and press a button that
> says "accept" before you can sign up for anything (U.S. companies).  That
> acceptance button is your fair warning ALLOWING the private company to
> collect any information you submit and generally they spell out what they
> intend to do with that information (U.S. based companies).
> The right to photograph/voice record is guaranteed from all public access
> areas including those public areas supported by tax-payers money unless
> specifically prohibited by prominently displayed warnings (U.S.).  You
> cannot encroach on private property to take pictures or record UNLESS you
> are allowed by the private property owner to do so (An example is all
> tickets to U.S. sports events specifically prohibit photographing,
> recording or any type of reproduction of the event without the property
> owners permission).
> As far as the question "exactly how much privacy should we have?"  A U.S.
> citizen CANNOT be surveilled by the NSA. To surveil a U.S. citizen, the
> FBI needs to have probable cause, and get approval from the judicial
> branch of government. Any NON-US citizen CAN BE surveilled WITHOUT limits
> by the NSA while NOT ON U.S. soil (that is why the NSA has tapped the
> international phone cables on the ocean floor beyond the 12 mile
> territorial limit of the U.S.).
> Any U.S. private citizen can record, collect, photograph anything unless
> specifically prohibited by signage, personal knowledge, or lack of
> permission to do so from a private property owner (in the U.S.).
> The issues currently being argued is the NSA collecting phone information
> from U.S. Citizens in direct violation of their mandate prohibiting them
> from doing so.  They are doing so because they decided to use the most
> liberal interpretation of the U.S. Patriot Act (most people agree --
> including the original author of the bill -- that it was too broadly
> worded originally).
> Apparently the NSA, through the FISA court (which is completely hidden
> from civilian oversight and all of its proceedings deliberately kept
> secret, which itself is in violation of the U.S. Judicial Branch
> requirement that all of it's proceedings be PUBLIC and it's decisions be
> made publicly available) used the might and power of the U.S. Government
> to place servers and other means of collecting data on US soil in data
> centers and companies (Yahoo, Google, Microsoft, AT&T points of presence)
> in violation of their mandate.
> So -- exactly how much privacy should we have? -- As a U.S. citizen I
> should have as much privacy as I demand and allow.  The U.S. Government
> CAN NOT have my information unless I specifically allow it or they have
> probable cause to get it using the 200 years of court rulings laying out
> exactly how to get it.  Any information I give out willingly and publicly
> that I later regret, is simply 'mea culpa'. -- If I am not a U.S. Citizen,
> I don't really care what the U.S. Constitution says since its
> inapplicable.
> Benjamin Franklin said it best: "They who can give up essential liberty to
> obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."
> The issue is definitely giving up essential liberty (the U.S. Patriot Act)
> to obtain a little temporary safety (supposedly stopping terrorist threats
> on U.S. Soil) and the U.S. Citizens will end up with neither liberty nor
> safety in the end.
> Regards,
> Martin

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