The demise of privacy

Hagbard Celine (
Wed, 25 Jun 1997 01:03:40 -0400

Eric Watt Forste wrote:

> Hagbard Celine writes:
> > I happen to think that in a short time, what we know of as "privacy"
> > will be a thing of the past. Some others are not convinced of that.
> Have you posted your reasons for believing this and I've just
> missed them? If not, I'd be interested to hear your reasons.

No I have not posted any reasons for this at all. What I thought might
lead to a discussion sort of deteriorated into something else. Anyway,
those of you who have read Asimov's Foundation Trilogy will probably see
the parallel coming up.

Does any regime desire revolution?

IMO, no government wishes to see itself supplanted by another, for
whatever reason. In this sense, a government is by nature
self-interested. Oh, it seems to be quite altruistic, even benevolent at
times, giving "free" lunches and whatnot. But of course, if you toss any
dog a bone he shuts up for a while. Indeed, toss any pack of dogs a bone
and they might not shut up, but at least they'll squabble amongst
themselves (the CIA said, "Let's send crack to the ghetto. That'll keep
their guns pointed at each other -- not us.)

So given a self-interested government, what does that government do when
discontent reaches a critical mass? To avoid revolution, that government
must crack down (pun intended) on the mischief-makers.

Let's see some current events from the point-of-view of the Fed:

Wacko, TX: Alarming show of conviction (i.e., mass suicide). Americans
may be beginning to believe in things other than God and the

Ruby Ridge: Mass brainwashing can explain Waco, but Randy Weaver was
rational -- which his Congressional hearing appearance proved. A lone
American can actually face off against the might of the Federal
Government without being crazy?

Unabomber: One man makes it his life work to kill people in order to,
inter alia, send the government a message. But, hey, if at least one
member of every person's family is a rat, we might still be safe.

Militias: Rednecks with ideals. Uttering such blasphemous terms as
liberty, civil rights, the Constitution, etc. Uh-oh. They've got a
shitload of guns, to boot.

Oklahoma City: That does it. These militias are not just ex-vets with
grand Soldier of Fortune delusions. These guys are meaning what they
say, to the tune of hundreds dead from one big old bomb.

Secessionists: Rational people who really don't want to live here
anymore. (See )

It seems to me that a certain subversive element of the American
psychology has come out of hiding. This country was birthed in the
violence of revolution against tyranny, and revisionism has made us
forget that tyranny is not necessarily relegated to history or modern
third world countries.

Don't bet the government hasn't noticed.

IMO, it is not difficult to imagine that the machinery in Washington is
slowly grinding out a strategy to deal with this "problem." These
strategists are not the idiots we see on TV. I'll bet they're damn smart
and idealistic as well. They believe in what they're doing, and like
automata they do it relentlessly. Of course, their first target is the
Internet, a bastion of subversive ideas. Sure PGP, SFS and other of the
encryption programs are quite good. But notice the governmental reaction
to their distribution. I'm sure most of us realize it is much less than

It is this reaction that I must sieze upon. Why would a government care
that its own citizens, and maybe some others from elsewhere, are making
it more difficult for prying eyes to get at their data? The answer is
pretty clear, because some people might, just might have a legitimate
reason for getting at that data. Of course, the government believes that
its legitimate reason is law enforcement.

There has not quite been a concerted assualt on privacy as of yet. Okay,
certain anti-privacy initiatives have been put into place (I won't run
through them all here -- go to
for details -- but suffice it to say, there have been just as many
setbacks for the government as gains. However, I rue the day my fears
become reality when the first bulletin hits the wires about the new
"wave of terrorism" that is imminent across the United States. This is
all that is needed. I envision legislators arguing beautifully before a
packed Congress that privacy must bow before the "safety" of our
children. Who would dare risk political death by "killing children." The
worst thing ever to happen to civil liberty was the invention of the
"balancing test." As if one's right to freely associate may be curtailed
due to "compelling governmental interest." The tools are all in place.
One smart propagandist need only invent the compelling governmental
interest and the house of cards can be picked apart one card at a time.

See for starters.

So, when the compelling governmental interest is actualized, and your
tax dollars are finally diverted into thwarting your privacy, you will
be not be able to do a thing -- especially when it becomes a felony for
you to even try.