An editorial from Katherine Mangu-Ward, the editor-in-chief of Reason, says, in part:
Privacy is dead. We have killed it, you and I.
It happened slowly and then all at once, much like falling in love. We traded away some of our privacy for convenience, with credit cards and GPS and cloud computing and toll transponders. Some of it was taken from us while we weren’t paying attention, via warrantless wiretaps and IRS reporting requirements and airport searches.
It sounds like she is re-stating what Pogo famously said in another context, “We have the met the enemy and he is us.” And yes, as Ziplock and I named this site in 2006, Pogo Was Right.
So what next? Looking to the future, Katherine writes:
So we cannot keep our secrets much longer. But there is still hope. A minimal state where civil liberties are expansively interpreted and scrupulously protected offers the best chance to preserve the sphere of individual liberty. It matters much less if the state knows everything about you when it has no cause and no right to act on that information unless a genuinely serious crime has been committed.
If speech and assembly and trade are not crimes—not punishable by the state—then the loss of privacy will be less acutely felt. This, in turn, is self-reinforcing. A state where civil liberties are robust and jealously guarded has little reason to install a vast surveillance network of its own or to force its way into private networks. There is little it can do with that information. It’s a virtuous cycle.
In other words, while the fight for privacy is over, the battle for civil liberties is more important than ever.
I’m not sure about keeping secrets much longer. As multinational companies must come into compliance with GDPR and the EU notion of the “right to be forgotten,” those of us in the U.S. may find that our European friends have managed to give us some better privacy protections than we had. But yes, I agree with the need for vigorous defense and battle to protect civil liberties. I’ve always felt that way, even decades before we found ourselves with the current assaults on our liberties and privacy.
As you read this site every site or skim the stories I post, I hope you pay attention to all the stories that show an increasingly concerning trend of using facial recognition, biometrics, and drone surveillance. Things are getting worse, and it would be prudent to pay close attention to what is going on with China and Hong Kong protesters and other developments around the world. Do not think that the parade of horribles cannot happen here and that these are only “over there” issues. Over there is closer than you think.