“They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” (ed. emphasis added)
Ben Franklin wrote those words over 200 years ago, and, as we reach the end of 2002, the state of important liberties around the world appears to be degenerating rapidly, particularly in the area of privacy concerns.
If one of Osama bin Laden's goals, as has been reported, was to trigger crackdowns against freedoms by Western governments, he got the ball rolling quite effectively on Sept. 11, 2001.
The United States now imprisons its own citizens incommunicado, indefinitely and without lawyers or trials, for the duration of what we're told is an essentially permanent state of war.
In the good old days of the iron curtain, we condemned other countries for such actions, calling them human rights violations. Now some of those same nations are our partners of convenience in the war on terror, and our own government has enthusiastically embraced our former adversaries' old tactics.
Both the USA Patriot and Homeland Security Acts include some elements that are arguably appropriate for national security in today's world. But they also include measures that have nothing to do with the fight against terrorism, and that are likely to have wide-ranging and chilling effects on privacy and liberty.
In the business community, where rampant disregard for privacy concerns has increasingly become the norm, it's financial gain, not national security, that's the driving force. [Privacy Digest]