Defining Privacy Down

Apparently, the problem we are all having with the FISA bill is a simple matter of semantics. We take the concept of privacy to mean privacy. How silly of us. As the Associated Press reports:

As Congress debates new rules for government eavesdropping, a top intelligence official says it is time that people in the United States changed their definition of privacy.

Privacy no longer can mean anonymity, says Donald Kerr, the principal deputy director of national intelligence. Instead, it should mean that government and businesses properly safeguard people’s private communications and financial information.

Trust us. We’re Big Brother. Public and private. We own you!

Kerr said at an October intelligence conference in San Antonio that he finds concerns that the government may be listening in odd when people are “perfectly willing for a green-card holder at an (Internet service provider) who may or may have not have been an illegal entrant to the United States to handle their data.”

See how stupid we are? If we’ll willingly allow immigrints to handle our private data, shouldn’t we be as willing to allow Big Brother? That’s actually an astonishing revelation of Kerr’s xenophobic bigotry: immigrants as the baseline of people who shouldn’t be trusted! Coming from one of this nation’s top intel officials!

Kerr also points out that since young people post private info to MySpace and Facebook, they really don’t care about privacy, anyway; and never mind that those who post to such websites actually choose what gets posted, and who sees it.  

“Those two generations younger than we are have a very different idea of what is essential privacy, what they would wish to protect about their lives and affairs. And so, it’s not for us to inflict one size fits all,” said Kerr, 68. “Protecting anonymity isn’t a fight that can be won. Anyone that’s typed in their name on Google understands that.”

See, that, young people. You just don’t care about your privacy! Isn’t it nice that good Mr. Kerr is there to speak on your behalves? We also need to take another look at that second sentence:

“Protecting anonymity isn’t a fight that can be won. Anyone that’s typed in their name on Google understands that.”

It particularly can’t be won when the principal deputy director of national intelligence is fighting against it!


Digby points to a thirty-seven year old example of government spying, and the outraged reaction. Today, of course, there is no outrage. Bush breaks laws that are fundamental to the concepts of freedom and liberty, and Congress reacts by changing the laws to make Bush’s crimes legal!

As Digby puts it:

One of the hallmarks of an authoritarian state is surveillance of its own citizens — if you give them the power they will use it to gain more. It’s inevitable. We Americans should be guarding our privacy more zealously than ever and insisting that our representatives find ways to ensure that the government does not repeal the fourth amendment in slow motion.

And once again, I’m shocked that a member of the government is just saying this kind of stuff outright in public and nobody seems to give a damn. If someone were to have asked you ten years ago what countries in the world had a doctrine of preventive war and used it to invade a country on false pretenses, spied on its own citizens, held people in jail indefinitely without due process and routinely tortured suspected enemies of the state, would you have ever believed the United States Of America was among them?

Clearly, Digby doesn’t understand: Constitutional and international law, freedom, liberty, and justice, and basic human morality are just pre-9/11 thinking. The terrorists don’t have to destroy America. Given the chance, we’ll do it ourselves.


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  1. I want to ask American Citizens if they still think we live in a democracy.

    Damn I hate it when all my tin-foil hat theories come true over and over again.

  2. but I’ve said that before.  The interesting thing is that only my pseudonym googles, my real name doesn’t turn up at all.

  3. secure having an ‘illegal alien’ handling my data then Google who went from ‘Do no harm’ to implementing censorship for vicious regimes in the time it took to go public. I’ve been reading about ITT’s role in toppling Allende, and I see the line between private interests and our police state disappearing. Were even losing our right to tort, the last line of resistance in common law.  

    This is double speak of the worst order. Two legs better, even though hackneyed is the appropriate phrase for this. Thing is will anyone care? Or just merrily go along chatting, downloading, Googleing figuring Big Bro is everywhere so just carry on. Funny how it’s so one sided no transparency on the governments or corps. part as it’s national security, we however are just an open book.    

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