Thursday, February 04, 2010

Continuing Erosion of Personal Freedoms by Police Entities

A recent article entitled "Police want backdoor to Web users' private data" by Declan McCullagh reveals the potential for the continuing surreptitious erosion of personal individual rights by governmental entities which seem to believe they alone are capable of protecting us from ourselves.

Government has two primary constitutional responsibilities: (1) Protect the citizenry from foreign powers who would overthrow our form of government. (2) Maintain domestic judicial order so that the citizenry can develop their resources to their greatest capability without oppressive interference from the authorities who maintain such. That is all government is needed for.

We do NOT need government to make sure we have health insurance, or food, or clothing. Nor do we need government to protect us from ourselves by limiting those activities which some entity might consider dangerous.

Seat belt laws are an example of government's intrusion into the personal lifestyles of individuals. While seat belts are obviously beneficial, they are also detrimental in some instances and downright ridiculous in others. My grandchildren are certainly not nearly as comfortable on trips as my own children were who were provided a bed in the floor board and allowed to sleep in an unrestrained position during trips. Seat belts were already becoming accepted as a safety factor when government decided to require everyone everywhere to wear them. While the transition to seat belt use would have taken longer, I believe it would have occurred nonetheless.

Bleeding heart elitists, the hoi oligoi, believing they know what is best for the hoi polloi, the great unwashed masses, seem obsessed with implementing more and more rules in the name of safety, security, and the general welfare. Such rules, once enacted, become simply another tool by which the commoners can be controlled. Control, it seems, is more important than any genuine benefit.

All of which leads us to the topic at hand. I am a strong proponent of the police in general. They have an often thankless profession, and must deal continually with the lowest class of society, the criminal. As the criminal cleverly devises ways to gain an advantage through deceit, theft, or subterfuge, the police must be prepared to react to each new invention of the criminal's diabolic mind. Yet, there must be limitations on their freedom to access the private information of the citizenry. Taking the time to obtain a paper warrant before accessing private information might indeed allow some criminals to escape. No system is failure proof. However, laid alongside the right of private law abiding citizens to protect their information, it is no contest. We must err on the side of freedom, or we will eventually err on the side of totalitarianism.

Only the most naive believe they can prevent private information being disseminated in this the information age. However, to authorize what amounts to warrantless intrusion into one's personal affairs is nothing less than an abdication of personal responsibility. Few who acquiesce to these procedures would allow the forcible search of their homes by police without a bonafide warrant, nothing less should be demanded of the electronic media.

You and I should contact our congressional delegations posthaste to inform them of our opposition to such procedures, lest they be inserted into innocuous appearing bills without raising a stir, or worse be enacted as administrative decisions by pompous bureaucratic aides.

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