Privacy

JOE HUFFMAN notes a new technological development and rightly anticipates one eventual use of it.

Which, I say, makes it most urgent that a marker be lain down and a line drawn in the sand, NOW, as to the absolute and ironclad nature of the right to privacy.

First, we must dispose of the coinage “Unreasonable [FITB with the particular infringment upon rights at hand].” Let us start with the presupposition that there is no reasonable infringement upon individual rights. Period. End of discussion. This may be distilled down to the bumper sticker/sound bite slogan, “You don’t get to waive my rights.” (Which is essentially what’s going on when a government judge rules on the reasonability of an action of agents of the government.) Such rulings are prima facie evidence of bad faith intent.

Summary: How is it reasonable for the state to rule on the reasonability or lack thereof of actions taken under the aegis of a charter of limitations on the actions of the government?

Next, we must have a more-expansive and more-rigorously-defended definition of privacy that is absolute and inheres closely to the individual.

I argue that privacy must include such matters as identity, self-ownership, and the right to be left alone and unmolested — by all actors, but most especially by the state. In aid of these, I make the following assertions — in no particular order. This list is in no way exhaustive.

The state may not assert an absolute right to know who you are — or who you represent yourself to be. On the other hand, it may demand that you meet certain standards, and that you must therefor prepare and present upon reasonable demand unrebuttable proof that you have, do, shall, or can meet those standards. For example, the state does not need to know who you are or where you live or anything else about you for you to be able to demonstrate dispositively that you have met the criteria for the granting of a driver’s license. In fact, the driver’s license need carry no human-readable identification, only admit to a cooperation with an independently-verifiable trust mark that serves as proof of your assertions.

Neither the state nor any private actor may keep or maintain any permanent record of your identity or of any of the earmarks of identity, or of any transactions with you without your explicit, written, independently verifiable permission on a case-by-case basis.

Identity theft must come to be seen as morally equivalent to murder and must be a capital crime in any society wishing to be considered civilized.

Recordings of any nature which may expose an individual’s identity may not be promulgated in any medium or in any venue without the explicit, written, independently verifiable permission on a case-by-case basis. Note the promulgation. Any individual may take a photograph of a street scene with people in it, but if he publishes it without permission…

And most certainly the state may not surveil the people for any reason under any pretext whatsoever, as it is a clear violation of the constitutional right to privacy. There is no “in public” exception to any of these rules. If privacy is not absolute, it does not exist.

Many people will argue, no doubt, that these strictures would make it impossible for ordinary commerce to be carried out. Contra that, I offer this example:

You walk into a store. You select your merchandise. The proprietor adds up the bill and informs you of the price, with tax. You pay him in bills and coins. He wraps your purchase according to custom and usage. You walk out. Both parties to the transaction are — presumably — happy with it. Neither need know anything more about the other than the bare fact of his existence. More may be volunteered at any step along the way, but it need not be demanded, nor need it be a mandatory prerequisite for the transaction to occur.

I submit to you that all of my criteria as listed above are met in this description. I further submit to you that this description applies to all human interaction, and that any interactions which cannot be carried out within these limits probably encapsulate affronts to liberty.

Certainly, for someone to claim a compelling state interest otherwise ought to raise enough red flags to mark a space shuttle crawler road trip.

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