'We're All Hypocrites' on Privacy
Bill Keller: Where's the outrage over government, corporate invasions?
By Evann Gastaldo, Newser Staff
Posted Jan 14, 2013 12:39 PM CST
A screenshot of the Journal News' online map of permit pistol owners in two New York counties.   (lohud.com)

(Newser) – The public howled when a New York newspaper printed the names and addresses of locals with gun permits, and we'd probably be similarly incensed if a paper decided to publish legally-obtained lists of abortion clinic employees, food stamp recipients, and on and on. Yet we, for the most part, do nothing when our privacy is invaded by our government in the name of national security, or by companies like Facebook and Google in the name of making a buck. The bottom line: "When it comes to privacy, we are all hypocrites," writes Bill Keller in the New York Times.

Keller lists numerous examples of our ever-more-intrusive "surveillance state," from the National Counterterrorism Center's ability to study and share any information the government has about you to intelligence agencies' ability to snoop on your phone calls and emails. We should demand "rigorous, independent oversight" to protect ourselves, but we don't. And then there are the Facebooks and Googles of the world, whose snooping we often see as "harmless, or even useful," not to mention online hacktivists like Anonymous, whose snooping we sometimes see as heroic. "As a society we have no coherent view of what information is worth defending and how to defend it," Keller writes. Click for his full column.

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Showing 3 of 12 comments
Jan 15, 2013 9:48 AM CST
Why don't I see the rabid gun owners protesting when the local papers publish the name and wages of every local government employee? Aren't they entitled to their privacy as well? Or is there a separate constitution that lessens one's rights if he or she chooses to perform public service.
Jan 15, 2013 9:34 AM CST
I'm truly not sure what privacy means today with so many, in effect, publishing details of their private lives anyway. But I DO know one thing. The more fundamental problem related to government-related invasions of privacy is the condition of perma-war that has been with us for over a decade. We have made war a constant condition. And it is a new kind of war without front lines, with amorphous/shifting enemies, and individual persons as targets sought out by drones controlled from our domestic soil. Though not much discussed, this last fact, makes facilities in Florida, Maryland and elsewhere LEGITIMATE military targets for those trying to do us harm. I think if we will end these and avoid future adventures with no clear goals or end points, we can have a much more productive discussion about reasonable limits to government surveillance.
Jan 15, 2013 6:51 AM CST
It seems the burglars would stay away from the homes they know are armed?