Thursday, June 6, 2013

Free expression in the age of no privacy

There's rain tonight and a wish. Cool air blows in. Midnight beer. The government violating our privacy is all in the news. To be honest, this was, at one time, more of an outrage. Since the PATRIOT Act, it seems we've lost our taste for protecting our privacy. More than a decade ago, I wrote an op-ed defending librarians as they tried to keep patrons' records from being violated. Now, well, it seems like we don't care so much, as long as our government is catching bad guys.

A government is only as good as the standard to which its citizens hold it.
It seems fairly simple to me. Also, Internet privacy is an oxymoron. I use my private phone to say goodnight to my daughter when I am working two blocks up the street. I use oh-so-insecure-Skype every day to talk to my student in Kabul. We discuss the weather, literature, our families, religion, culture, the Taliban, climate change, and sometimes - poetry.

There are plenty of security threats, foreign and domestic.
We pay for a government to protect us. If we do not keep track of what they are doing, they will abuse their power.

Perhaps most important: If freedom of expression is sacrificed by a creeping self-censorship in the name of some ill-conceived unified feeling of security, we've completely lost at our own game.
If we have no privacy, then please, keep the conversation lively and honest.

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