RE: Privacy

Billy Brown (
Wed, 31 Mar 1999 09:46:47 -0600

Julian Leviston wrote:
> 1. People who have nothing to hide won't have problems..
> 2. People should have the right to have things to hide..
> 2. a) Who judges the right and do they have the right to judge..
> 2. b) What says one thing is right and another is wrong..
> 3. What are rules for..

If you actually have a free society, the rule has to be that everyone is free to keep their activities private. If the government gets to decide who does and does not deserve privacy rights, there will be a steady erosion of these rights. Eventually, the only people with privacy with be government agents.

OTOH, I am suspicious of framing the privacy question in these terms. A 'right' to privacy is a nebulous concept, which in practice usually amounts to restricting someone else's freedom of speech. It might be better to approach the problem from a different direction.

I would suggest that the rights of freedom of speech and freedom of contract are sufficient to accomplish everything that should properly be done to protect individual privacy. You can easily claim the right to conceal your doing via encryption, blind agents, assumed names (or refusal to provide identification), and so forth on these grounds. If these are the areas you are concerned about, I support you.

OTOH, you do not have a right to tell someone else what they can do with their own records, or what they can truthfully say about you to others. You can refuse to provide information you don't want others to have, and you can attempt to persuade them not to do things you don't like, but you do not have a right to use force to stop them. We can legitimately forbid government from doing this sort of thing, but not business.

Billy Brown, MCSE+I