The 2012 Democratic National Platform supports the administration’s Internet Privacy Bill of Rights to protect consumer privacy. Separate provisions in the platform call for privacy protections for broadband deployment, intellectual property enforcement, and cybersecurity laws; the Democratic platform opposes voter identification laws. However, the platform is silent on the Fourth Amendment, and retreats from the 2008 Democratic platform that opposed surveillance of individuals that were not suspected of a crime. In 2008, Candidate Obama promised to“strengthen the privacy protections for the digital age and to harness the power of technology to hold government and business accountable for violations of personal privacy.” The 2012 Republican Platform was released last week. The Libertarian and Green Party platforms are also available. For more information, see EPIC: Privacy and Consumer Profiling, EPIC: Voter Photo ID and Privacy, EPIC: National Security Letters, and EPIC: Cybersecurity Privacy Practical Implications
As I tweeted recently, the Republican platform only mentions “privacy” once, and that is in the context of the use of drones. The Democratic platform mentions “privacy” six times, but does not mention “surveillance” or “drones” at all. And while the Democrat platform does talk about consumer and Internet privacy, its failure to address serious Fourth Amendment issues strikes me as an appalling – and significant – omission. You can’t claim to protect an open Internet and free speech when you are busy arguing in court that the government can get your online records and that individuals have no right to challenge those requests or subpoenas.
Back in 2008, when this site compared the candidates on privacy issues, I expressed my concerns about then-candidate Barack Obama’s weak record on privacy and how although he talked about FISA and Fourth Amendment protections, he went along with the pack when push came to shove. From a privacy standpoint, Hillary Clinton had a better record, as did Ron Paul.
So here we are four years later, and looking back, it’s clear that the Obama administration has not been the force for privacy, transparency,and civil liberties that many had hoped they would be. Their failure to openly inform the public about how they interpret the PATRIOT Act is deplorable, to say the least. Their arguments that the government can just engage in warrantless GPS surveillance or obtain cell location data without warrants is equally deplorable. Although this administration has tried to address some consumer privacy issues, and I give them credit for that, this administration has done nothing but argue for greater surveillance by the government with fewer protections for individuals, and it’s high time the public realized that.
If you still value privacy and civil liberties, you may feel that you are being faced with the “lesser of two evils” choice between the Republicans and Democrats. Maybe you think the Democrats are slightly better. Or maybe you wish the Libertarian Party wasn’t so “out there” on its economic approach.
If you don’t like the choices you’re being offered, have you taken a look at the Green Party to see if you find yourself at home with their platform?
It would be nice to vote for candidates who actually stand up for the values you hold, wouldn’t it?