When I was in law school, I went to a luncheon at which famed legal scholar Arthur Miller spoke. His topic, still a fresh one back in the mid-1980s, was the amount of private information floating around in computers. His target was American corporations. He felt that American corporations were collecting too much consumer data, and destroying the consumers’ right to privacy.
I didn’t agree with Miller — or, at least, I didn’t feel his paranoia. It was certainly true then, and it’s more true now, that corporations track an enormous amount of consumer data. The fact is, though, we don’t have to give corporations that data. We do so for our convenience. If I don’t want a credit card company to track my spending habits, I can pay cash. If I don’t want Safeway to track my product purchases, I don’t have to have a membership number. I like the convenience of credit cards and I like the discounts that go with grocery store membership cards, but I can quit playing the game at any time to preserve my privacy.
The stakes are different, though, when the government is involved. When it’s the government demanding your information, you have no leeway to say “no!”
Read more of Bookworm’s essay on American Thinker. Bookworm uses jury questionnaires, the President’s healthcare plan, and the 2010 Census as examples of government and legislative threats to privacy.