We Need A Sort of Inverted Haymarket Riot

FOR PRIVACY. Bruce Schneier lays out some of the points in issue.

There have been a lot of excuses for this sad state of affairs. You asked for it — or, at least, accepted it (the vast impositions against privacy in business, banking and all the rest of our private affairs) in exchange for convenience. It makes modern business operations possible; without it the world wouldn’t go. And the most despicable of all: privacy is dead; get over it.

(Assertion of that last should earn the speaker a righteous bitch-slapping at the very least.)

All of which have the sulfurous reek of totalitarian stalking horses. Just as with the subject of gun control, the issue is not guns but control, so, too, the issue with the exposure of private information isn’t the exposure, but who has the right to expose it.

In a free society, if you own yourself (and how despicable is the opposite situation), then how can you not own the information about you? And, that being the case — that you manifestly do have exclusive ownership rights in the information about you (a truth which is tacitly acknowledged in the waivers and disclaimers they make you sign in order to get access to their goodies) — how can those whom you trust with that information treat it other than as a fiduciary confidence which THEY MUST NOT BREACH?

Well, because they’re despicable trimmers who seek to get away with as much as they can, greedily grasping for any gain — even that not rightly theirs — they can realize. If you own the information ABOUT yourself, then how is the sale of that information not the fencing of stolen goods?

Well, Mr. Smartass, how would you fix the situation? Well, first and foremost, anonymization. In most cases, there is no need to tie your identity to information about you. Schneier himself, in the period immediately after 9/11, outlined a series of protocols by which trust data could be handled anonymously (and, incidentally, probably at significantly lower cost) and actually enhance the reliability of it. In the case of access to the secure areas of airports, there is no need for the state to know WHO you are, merely that it can be reliably demonstrated that you are trustworthy. Which, as I say, does not require proof of identity.

And that would be the initial approach I would recommend. Identify and remove those markers of identity which are not necessary to the trust-verification process at hand. Beyond that, I would recommend a return to the view that the Bill of Rights are sacrosanct, and that they MEAN WHAT THEY SAY. The Fourth Amendment, for example, says nothing about “agents of the state.” It instead absolutely proscribes the violation of a right to privacy without a stringent due process having been hewed to. And that includes the #%$*!&@ IRS.

At least, I don’t see an “except for tax collectors” in the text of the Amendment. And I suspect that James Madison would have bitch slapped you had you proposed that interpretation at the time. I mean, considering that they’d just fought a rebellion against taxes and all.

And… why “inverted”? Well, the original Haymarket Riot, as Wikipedia put it… The Haymarket affair is generally considered significant as the origin of international May Day observances for workers. … and, as such, is a point in favor of totalitarianism. (What? You don’t think Marxist are totalitarian?) (What? You don’t think trade unionists are Marxist?) (Whyever not?) We certainly don’t want that. But we need a similar impetus and rallying point to make of privacy an issue of the scope and urgency perceived by trade unionists back in the late 19th Century.

How we get there, I have no clue.

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