Landscape organizes everything within sight.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Privacy law under fire

Last night Google Inc was subpoenaed by the US Justice Department to submit data relating to web searches performed using Google software over the past year.

Telegraph | News | Google resists US government demand for search data

The Google case was first reported in Britain, a country where "ancient rights and liberties" still form a mainstay of Conservative Party rhetoric.

In contrast, Americans tend to be skeptical about the need for privacy law protection. Most individual Americans have a limited historical horizon on which they cannot remember the recent regimes in civilized Europe where searches of papers and rifling through homes were used to control ethnic minorities, intellectuals, free speech, and free thought.

Privacy advocates need to find and publicize the cases of abuse that have already happened.


Privacy law isn't just for criminals and pot farmers; historically, it's protected the honest farmer who runs afoul of his powerful landlord for earnest reasons.

The fact that internet searches rather than the home are at stake means that protecting privacy comes even closer to protecting the freedom of the soul, the freedom of curiosity, of free-thinking, and of free will.

A free society needs privacy law, and ours is under assault.


This is a case for the EFF, that brave alliance of Silicon Valley lawyers who work out of the goodness of their hearts to protect all our civil liberties.

Visiting the EFF website, I find a link to the Google story, but no menu for stories of privacy law abuses or the dangers they lead to. The EFF needs to wage a propaganda and publicity campaign: Americans trust their Bill of Rights to protect them, but they're painfully naive about the danger that wiretaps and search aggregates pose.

An unsolicited suggestion for the EFF? Along with your lawyers, hire a spin doctor or a historian. Talk about the values and issues at stake.


Post a Comment

<< Home