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The Weekend Read
Privacy and Politics

Privacy is important, but not for the reasons privacy activists usually cite.

Published on: March 1, 2014
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  • Jim__L

    Racial and religious beliefs in the same breath. Wow.

    It has come to this, even in a publication like The American Interest.

    In an age of political correctness and ideological conformism, Berkowitz is on the side of PC run amok.

  • Anthony

    Necessary trade-offs: has technology lessened privacy in Democratic state and does it matter politically (what is it about privacy that makes it worth saving). For me, above is crux of review. Taking on privacy as exclusiveness and incubation for human uniqueness in modern democracy reveals its importance – allowing that “privacy guarantees difference and thus plurality in the public world.”

  • Nick

    Privacy (more specifically, no government intrusion) is necessary to avoid forced conformity of thought. Yes, you may develop your life philosophy behind closed doors, but it is the expectation of privacy from government intrusion – and from extension that the government doesn’t pinpoint you and use your opinions against you, that allows for a free society. When the government collects data, the danger is great that they will use it persecute those it disagrees with. That danger has been realized in many communist countries. Here we are seeing it with the politicization of the various agencies – the IRS, the FBI, OSHA, the EPA. These agencies hold people’s lives and livelihoods in their hands, and fear of them squashes dissent.

  • free_agent

    My guess/observation is that people worry about privacy when they have the sense that they are dealing with a party that knows more about them than vice-versa, and that difference puts them at a disadvantage.

    Thus, when the first big flap about privacy (that I know of) came around, the fear was that credit bureaus would hurt people by disseminating false information about them. People were willing to have true information disseminated if that enabled them to get credit cards.

    If you follow this back, the people we most want to have privacy from are the ones we deal with the most closely. In particular, one is very nervous about what one’s soon-to-be-ex-spouse’s lawyer can find out about our private shenanigans. But the NSA is irrelevant, as long as what’s in the NSA’s computers stays in the NSA’s computers.

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