Privacy tide may be turning


An article from CNet provides some evidence that people in the United States are cooling to the idea of having their privacy invaded and warming up to the idea of overturning (or at least limiting) some of the additional powers granted the government after 9/11.

The article cites a number of events that are seen as positive in the eyes of privacy advocates, including:

  • Last Tuesday's overwhelming (309 to 118) vote that removed funding for the use of the secret search provision of the USA Patriot Act.
  • An attempt, also last week, to remove the provision in the USA Patriot Act that allows for the government to search library and bookstore records without a warrant and that compels librarians and booksellers to comply (and hide the search from their patrons) under penalty of incarceration. This particular amendment failed, but has the support of 129 members of the house.
  • The Sentate's yanking of funding for the TIA (Total Information Awareness) plan. Also interesting is the defensive posture now being taken by Attorney General Ashcroft, who has recently pleaded with the House that they revisit their "hasty" decision to cut funding for the secret searches. Of course, the writer of the article in CNet rightly points out that Ashcroft didn't seem nearly so concerned with a rush to judgment when the initial USA Patriot Act was hurriedly passed without any serious controls on the use of these new powers.

Frankly, if the government weren't making such a smash and grab for expanded powers, much of the hoopla surrounding the USA Patriot act would not exist, but as unbalanced laws created during times of stress are vetted, the pendulum has a way of swinging back towards the rights of the people.

We can but hope that this is the beginning of the swing and that as the country continues to heal itself of the wounds of 9/11, it will show the rest of the world the true healing through a reclamation of its basic rights and principles.