35 Alexander Hamilton
36 George W. Bush
37 Howard Dean
38 John Edwards
39 Michelle Obama
40 Wilbur Mills
41 Thomas Jefferson
42 a-4, b-1, c-2, d-3, e- DUH
Number of Incorrect Answers
0-5 You would make Ronald Reagan and Barry Goldwater proud
6-10 Newt couldn’t do better
11-15 You don’t watch MSNBC, do you
16-20 Yeah, you’re an Democrat
21-25 I’m guessing you’re under 25
26-35 You may have voted for Obama
36-42 You voted for Obama twice AND support ObamaCare. You may be stupid.
ANSWERS TO FROM THE FRONT QUIZ
Permission to be Known - The Right to be Forgotten
When I was growing up, it was a well-understood convention that people were entitled to privacy. When one went to the bathroom, the door was closed to assure one’s privacy. Parent’s bedroom doors might be locked to assure their privacy. The privacy of communications submitted to the U.S. Postal Service was protected. A placard was affixed to every corner post office box reading something like: “Tampering with the U.S. mail is a felony subject to five years imprisonment and a $5,000 fine.” Privacy was a serious matter.
Along the way, some genius figured out that a unique identifier of every person would be useful to process transactions requiring proof of whom that person was: the Social Security Card. Even though not intended for general identification, the card became a requirement to do business, secure health care, and cash a check – generally with the consent of the individual, as a matter of convenience.
Enter the electronic age: databases, cookies, Big Data, the Internet and Internet advertising, the Cloud and more. Much more. Today, we are living very much in Orwell’s 1984 world of Big Brother; or rather, a collection of Big Brothers, public and private, collecting, maintaining and distributing data about every aspect of our lives. It is safe to say that no individual could compile a personal biography as detailed and complete as the United States government, or Google. It’s out of control and getting worse.
Amendment IV of the Constitution gives people the right to be “secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures.” That language suggests a right of privacy, though not explicitly. Further, it applies to a non-electronic world. The Founders did not, nor could they have contemplated computers or databases. Neither, it seems, did they contemplate the surreptitious and criminal manner that might be employed by public and private agencies alike to obtain information on individuals.
A God given right to privacy is as certain as that to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and in fact, is essential to the preservation of these other stated rights. Why then has government not acted to protect and preserve this sacred right? There are two reasons:
The interests of commercial enterprises, secured by their lobbies, and facilitated by the payment of large amounts of money to politicians; and
The concomitant desire of those in government to invade privacy as much or more as private enterprises, often for nefarious reasons (such as the IRS).
In a recent Wall Street Journal article (Europe vs. U.S. Technology Giants, p A1 and A12, 12/9/14), a pending clash between the EU and American business interests is described: “Silicon Valley’s default setting of light regulation is colliding with the greater European emphasis on preserving individual privacy.” While the writer suggests the conflict is about economics and control of the Internet, the more direct issue is the competing interests of privacy VERSUS economic interests. In particular, “U.S. companies were stunned by a decision from the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg in May that Europeans had an online “right to be forgotten” and have potentially damaging references removed from search results. The U.S. Constitution would appear to prohibit such a provision in the U.S., but Europe’s national privacy regulators went further last month, recommending that search engines should apply the ruling to all their websites, not just in Europe” (Bold face added).
Much of the recent awareness and concern over privacy issues was sparked by revelations of Edward Snowden regarding the U.S. government’s invasions of privacy of its citizens and others. While this is intolerable, an equal concern is the vast amount of personal information that has been collected in commercial enterprises, including Google, which is merely one of thousands. Clearly, this is a perfect storm of three competing interests:
The desire of government bureaucrats and politicians to expand the information it maintains on citizens, often for illegitimate or dangerous reasons
The desire of commercial enterprises, large and small, to acquire more and more information on consumers and their lifestyle habits for financial gain
The desire of citizens to maintain the privacy of their lives, and to allow intrusion on when it is justified, agreed upon, voluntary, and for a specific purpose, transaction or period
Citizens should be able to protect themselves from unfettered access into their private affairs, whether by consent, unwittingly, or under duress. They cannot be blackmailed by being forced to choose to allow information gathering, or denied goods or services.
Businesses have a justification to collect essential information to complete a commercial transaction, but no more. They do not have the right to obtain more than necessary information, nor to sell it to the highest bidder. The use of “cookies” and embedding of tracking software on one’s computer are insidious examples of this data gathering assault on the public. It must be stopped. If there are economic costs to companies, so be it. If whole industries have to find new, legitimate ways of conducting business or realizing profits, so be it. If government has to rely on the due process of law and justified necessity to obtain information on its citizens, SO BE IT. The right of citizens to privacy takes precedence and has been ignored for far too long.
It’s a shame that it has taken European lawmakers to implement protections of personal privacy that American lawmakers have clearly sold out to commercial interests. The protection of privacy is not a governmental act, however; it is among those granted by God: the right to be left alone. The legal extension of this, as noted in the Journal article, is the “right to be forgotten.”
Because of the complex web of invasions into the privacy of citizens, no law or laws can possibly deal with the matter. It will take one supreme act to assure the privacy of citizens in the form of a constitutional amendment. Suggested wording is as follows:
Section 1. All citizens have a right to privacy. No individual or other entity, public or private, shall acquire, retain, or disseminate information in any form, written, photographic, oral or electronic, pertaining to any citizen, without that person’s prior written consent.
Section 2. Exempt from this requirement is information maintained as a whole for statistical purposes, without any reference or traceability to individuals; information required and voluntarily provided in the normal course and scope of commerce; information secured pursuant to legal process and subject to issuance of a subpoena in a criminal investigation.
Section 3. Not less than once annually, all information collected pursuant to Section 2 shall be purged, or a written or electronic copy furnished to all citizens on which such information is maintained. Citizens shall have the right to require that any or all such information be purged.
To be sure, the passage of this amendment will be met with wails from the halls of Washington bureaucrats; there will be cries claiming national security is endangered; and companies and their lobbyists will file lawsuits and try to buy influence. Inevitably, companies and even some industries will be heavily impacted, or even go away. Those consequences are not only acceptable, they are necessary. The right to privacy is as sacred as life itself - and the assurance and preservation of God-given rights is not optional.
Block New Spying on U.S. Citizens: Vote “NO” on H.R. 4681
Note: As this is written, the Intelligence Authorization Act for FY 2015 (H.T. 4681) was rushed to the floor for a vote—with little debate and only a voice vote expected. Thanks to the efforts of Congressman Justin Amash (R-MI), a roll call vote was taken. The bill already passed in the House 325-100, including 44 Republicans!
(Nevada’s representatives Amodei-R, Titus-D, and Horsford-D voted to pass; Heck-R voted against)
According to Congressman Amash, “Sec. 309 provides the first statutory authority for the acquisition, retention, and dissemination of U.S. persons’ private communications obtained without legal process such as a court order or a subpoena. The administration currently may conduct such surveillance under a claim of executive authority, such as E.O. 12333. However, Congress never has approved of using executive authority in that way to capture and use Americans’ private telephone records, electronic communications, or cloud data.”
We support Congressman Amash in his efforts to reject this expansion of government intrusion into privacy, and especially by the executive branch! Write your Congressman and tell them to vote NO – We want less government intrusion into our lives, not more.
"Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."
- Benjamin Franklin