Sunday, June 30, 2013

Guess I'll repeat the obvious - this national security panopticon thing is a problem

Even though I trust Obama far more than Bush, I don't trust him or the hundreds of other people with access to total information about everything (slight exaggeration) to use it sparingly and only for good. And while I don't like to assume facts for which we have no evidence, the recent disclosures of government spying seem unlikely to be the only spying that's done on the general public. No abuses of the information have been disclosed, but that doesn't mean it hasn't happened, and given enough time and enough people with access to the information, we can assume it will happen at some point.

What exactly to do about it seems far less clear to me. And as much as we environmentalists wished that the public knew more and cared more about our issues, we do a lot better than the civil liberties people do with the public.

One aspect of this issue is that the private corporate panopticon isn't much better than the government one. I've made a distinction in the past between the "reasonable" libertarianism that I sometimes identify with versus "simplistic" libertarianism that sees liberty in black and white terms. This is another case where simplistic libertarians, who see no threat from corporate information-gathering while acknowledging threats from government, just don't make sense. That corporate information is too ripe a target for government not to try to get.

We need some European-style privacy laws.