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  Nostalgia ain't what it used to be

Friday, 27 November, 2020

The Death of Privacy

Date: 01 May, 2002

By: Chief

Imaget was not too awfully long ago, in the grand scheme of things anyway, people, businesses and government respected our privacy. They treated our right to privacy as if it was their own. As it should be. As it was. The operative word here is "was." For the right to privacy, simply stated, no longer exists. It is tagged on the toe dead.

Oh the Ninth Amendment and the Fourteenth Amendment are still on the books. The principles are still taught in law schools — one would hope. But in reality the Ninth and Fourteenth Amendments are simply ignored. Ignored by busy bodies — the special interest groups that know what is best for you and I. Ignored completely by telemarketers, spy-ware programs and every other kind of sleaze ball business you can think of. Ignored in toto by government, agents of government and our representatives in government. Indeed government is aiding and abetting business interests to complete the utter destruction and subsequent burial of our right to privacy. Scum-bags.

Speaking of scum-bags, it is time to introduce United States Senator Ernest "Fritz" Hollings, Democrat, South Carolina. A good old boy who is owned lock, stock and mint julep by the entertainment industry. Without doubt Hollings is one of the Senate's largest, if not the largest, recipients of entertainment industry campaign contributions. Very recently, Fritz introduced a bill entitled the "Online Personal Privacy Act" (S. 2201). While the title of the bill sounds really good, the text of the bill allows for, legitimizes and protects those who invade our privacy while surfing the net.

Hollings bill, which I call the "Online Personal Piracy Act of 2002," segregates personal information into two categories. The first is "sensitive" information, which includes financial and medical history, race, lifestyle, religion, political affiliation, and sex life. How lovely. The second is "non-sensitive" information which includes our name, address, and records of anything we buy or any place we surf on the Internet. Under the act, business can't collect or divulge the sensitive bits without our express consent, but anything classified as non-sensitive can be freely collected and sold at will. It is called espionage and Hollings is telling the world to go ahead violate the privacy of citizens. Just pay me first. Hollings is the picture postcard definition of a prostitute.

Once we get past the stellar title, there are two loopholes the size of the Grand Canyon contained within the text of this piece of garbage. The first is the allowance of "cookies or other tracking technology" to gather the data that Hollings considers to be "non-sensitive" — such as our browsing and shopping habits. This would include the entire range of spy-ware now lurking in the wild. Yes, there is a feeble requirement to provide "robust notice" — which, as usual, is left undefined. It probably would be found as a legal notice or license agreement if you can wade through the legalese, but that is just a guess. Well, excuse the hell out of me, but now Fritz is going to determine my privacy? I don't think so!

The second is that any inferred knowledge will not be considered "personally identifiable" and therefore will be protected under law, leaving data-mining experts with the freedom to continue mapping our interests and kinks with their robot cartographers and sharing or selling the results with their partners.

Names and e-mail addresses are conspicuously missing from the act's definition of "sensitive" information, by the way. Hollings' bill of classifying the levels of our privacy is utterly ludicrous and is akin to having a fox guard the chicken coop. To be sure, the entire idea of someone else attempting to classify my privacy, which is my business and no one else's to begin with, is utterly ludicrous.

Hollings is committing murder. He is single handedly murdering our right to privacy. The Online Personal Piracy Act of 2002 not only makes it possible for businesses to accelerate into this brave new world of automated lifestyle profiling, but also fools We the People into a false sense of security. You may not care if the credit card company knows what ills you suffer from or if Amazon has twigged to the kinks you practice in the bedroom, well I do mind. I mind a great deal. While I have no ills except for the kinks I practice in the bedroom, those kinks and anything else I consider private are just that — private. It is nobody's business but mine, and I alone make the decision as to what I consider to be private information. Not some high priced prostitute in Washington, District of Criminals. While you may be comfortable being lost in a crowd of millions of Internet surfers, enjoying the same kind of anonymity an ant enjoys in his hive I, for one, am not and it is time to level out this digital divide.

This latest murder of a Constitutional right epitomizes exactly what is wrong with our political process and our politicians. Our rights are up for sale, on a daily basis, to the highest bidder. Elected politicians subscribe to an oath to protect our rights on the one hand and take money by selling our rights they are sworn to protect with the other. Given the vast amounts of cold hard cash which flow into the hands, and then bank accounts, of politicians from businesses and special interest groups and the lifestyle to which politicians are used to living, it is easy to determine the outcome of the right versus cash battle. Swine.

There are only two methods available to put a stop to this murder of Constitutional rights. The first is the cartridge box rebellion. The second is the ballot box rebellion. Both are devastating.

The next congressional election is a mere seven months away.

Choose your weapon.

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