Saturday28 January 2023

Judge Posner says the NSA should have unfettered access to your data

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It would seem that some in the judicial branch of the US government feel that privacy is not really about protecting citizens from unjustified surveillance. They also do not seem to have any fear of the US becoming a place where the government has powers that extend beyond the ones granted by the US constitution. At least this is the opinion of one US Judge; Judge Richard Posner. The interesting thing is that Posner has made more than a few statements in favor of individuals including condemning the existing copyright system and the way that the copyright lobby is trying to enforce it.

The conflict, it seems, comes from the fact that Posner is strongly in favor of protecting people from corporations, but feels the right to privacy ends there. If the government or law enforcement wants in your business they should have full and unfettered access to do what they want. Posner feels that privacy is all about people trying to hide the bad things they are doing: “Privacy is mainly about trying to improve your social and business opportunities by concealing the sorts of bad activities that would cause other people not to want to deal with you”

Posner’s opinion is one of “if you are not doing anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about”. The issue with this statement is that information collected is not always used to prevent wrong doing. In the past (and present) surveillance has been wrongfully used to silence people with differing political opinions. It has been used as a tool to track down protestors or other people that voice strong opinions against whatever the current administration was (or is). By removing the right to privacy from broad government surveillance it also removes one of the fundamental freedoms that exists in our form of government. Removing that right will have a negative effect on people’s right to express their own opinions to each other.

Fortunately, Posner’s opinion is not being echoed by many other judges. A large number feel that the right to Privacy is a fundamental right and that overreaching surveillance efforts by the NSA and others impact this. They feel that the laws must change to favor the individual rather than the government. National Security goals can still be met without the need to gather information about everyone that has a presence on the internet. As Michael Dreeben said, “A certain degree of privacy is perhaps a precondition for freedom, political freedom, artistic freedom, personal autonomy. It’s kind of baked into the nature of the democratic system.”

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Last modified on Monday, 08 December 2014 09:57

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