Monday, August 22, 2005

Expectations of privacy

I tend to be paranoid about privacy issues -- automatic traffic cameras make me more nervous, not less, as do the prospects of national ID cards and forms of vehicle tracking. My friends (or spouse) sometimes argue that I'm fighting too hard against the slippery slope -- that we're a long way from losing our civil rights to the government's view of our safety needs. But this post makes clear that that's not really true: safety from "unreasonable search" depends on the current definition of "reasonable," so the more used people become to ever-more-intrusive monitoring, searches, and the like, the more justifiable those measures (and more) become. A scary, scary cycle.
I don't want chips or transmitters that can be read from a distance on my person or in my car. I don't want these things even if in some rare cases they would lead to an arrest that wouldn't otherwise happen. That's what being for liberty means, that some people are able to get away with bad things sometimes so that the rest of us don't have to live in fear of our government.
And that's even before you get into discussions about whether any of these measures have any real effect in increasing our safety. I suspect that no bag-search in a New York subway will ever nab a terrorist. But I'm not so convinced that no subway bombing will every happen there. Let's not sacrifice real freedoms for phantom protections.


AboveAvgJane said...

I won't even get the grocery store discount cards or give my zip code to store clerks. Nor will my sibs. It makes our spouses crazy. Paranoia runs in the family.

ACM said...

I was very excited when I could finally get a grocery card that didn't have any of my personal info attached. I'm happy to have my tastes rewarded, but refuse to be tracked during every move...