Feb 272015

The fox is proposing to the chickens that it protect them from the raccoons.

The draft Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights Act of 2015 aims to “establish baseline protections for individual privacy in the commercial arena” and to foster those through “enforceable codes of conduct.” These are worthy goals, and achieving them sounds like something the U.S. Federal Trade Commission should be working on.

A “consumer privacy bill of rights” is clearly intended to apply specifically to people who are consuming. The right to personal privacy needs protection regardless of whether people participate in the economy by producing or by consuming, and also if they do not participate at all.

For the White House to focus on this bill now, nearly two years after NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed to the world the truth about our and other nation’s spy agencies, while those agencies continue to operate with complete disregard–in some cases, outright disdain–for personal privacy, slurping up every bit of data they can access by hook or by crook, is to distract the nation from what I see as the most serious problem we face today.

The most significant threats to people’s privacy come from governments’ law enforcement and spy agencies, not from private businesses. Private businesses’ actions are most threatening to our privacy when they collaborate with law enforcement and spy agencies. Private businesses cannot put people in jail based on their words or associations, but governments can and do. Private businesses can neither compel people to hand over information about a third parties nor prohibit them from speaking to others about that order, but governments can and do both.

People can choose not to do business with Wal-Mart or Amazon. We can choose not to tell Facebook anything about ourselves. We can choose not to use Skype, Office 365, Dropbox, or Gmail. But we cannot choose to avoid the actions of FBI, TSA, CIA, or NSA.

If the people of Microsoft dislike the fact that I advocate for the use of open standards and free software, they cannot take action to prevent me from doing so. If the United States government doesn’t like what I have to say or with whom I associate, they can collect and analyze all of my digital communications in search of something to use against me. They can put me on secret watch lists. They can prevent me from exercising my right to travel by air from one state to another. They can label me a terrorist and put me on the president’s drone-assassination list.

The “Internet Privacy Bill of Rights” proposed by the Obama administration would be far more protective of our right to privacy if every use of the word “consumers” was replaced with “people” and if every use of the word “companies” was followed by the words “and governments.”

 Posted by at 2:36 pm

  2 Responses to “Consumers, privacy, bills, and rights”

  1. Bravo Phil, you’ve said it perfectly and succinctly. Privacy in this brave new digital world is a cornerstone that must be restored if we are to preserve democracy. We have actually lost a functioning democracy, but the laws and the people are on our side. We just need to activate their voices despite the mainstream media blackout and demonstrate a path to regain the promise of America.

    I am running for Congress in Los Angeles (CA28) to restore the 4th amendment along with the rest of the Bill of Rights and the spirit of all our founding documents. Running as an independent is easy in California thanks to top-two voting with open primaries which took effect in 2012. I am searching for like-minded, well-spoken, prepared, ordinary individuals who are willing to put themselves on the line and run as independents in all 53 congressional districts in California. I am hoping to find individuals who can lead the effort in other states to find candidates who will serve as new representatives to guide our country past this dark cloud on our democracy.

    The issues of corruption in both parties, money and media controverting democracy, Citizens United allowing vast sums of dark money to taint our democracy, NSA surveillance of citizens, suppressing freedom of speech via the Federal Restricted Grounds Act, ignoring food safety via the Monsanto Protection Act, attempts to pass the disastrous Trans-Pacific Partnership which damages U.S. sovereignty, the militarization of our police departments and the litany of transgressions against the freedom of the American people are neither conservative or liberal issues. These issues go to the core of a free society where “We the People” chose and direct the path of our nation to achieve the greatest personal freedom and opportunity.

    Please share this effort to organize independents for independence. I want to share the lessons from my first campaign with others and win as many seats in Congress as possible to help enact policies to save democracy. If you have ever considered running for office, or are able to suggest thoughtful, well-spoken potential candidates please reach out to me.

    Contact Steve Stokes at 323-454-3477 or 53independents@gmail.com.

    My own thoughts on privacy are at http://stokes4congress.com/nsa

  2. Im looking for the citing of the suit Mocek v SPD (?) Specifically, atleast a minimum of the verbage for the police cruiser tracking records request. I need the GPD locations of a few officers in Port Orchard WA- Kitsap County and am getting ignored. I have video of PO Officers outside of their jurisdiction on my property yet they are denying it. If you would email me privately- just the verbage to get the records- I would greatly appreciate it. Thanks so much.

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