Security vs. Privacy

If there's a debate that sums up post-9/11 politics, it's security versus privacy. Which is more important? How much privacy are you willing to give up for security? Can we even afford privacy in this age of insecurity? Security versus privacy: It's the battle of the century, or at least its first decade.

In a Jan. 21 New Yorker article, Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell discusses a proposed plan to monitor all -- that's right, all -- internet communications for security purposes, an idea so extreme that the word "Orwellian" feels too mild.

The article (now online here) contains this passage:

In order for cyberspace to be policed, internet activity will have to be closely monitored. Ed Giorgio, who is working with McConnell on the plan, said that would mean giving the government the authority to examine the content of any e-mail, file transfer or Web search. "Google has records that could help in a cyber-investigation," he said. Giorgio warned me, "We have a saying in this business: 'Privacy and security are a zero-sum game.'"

I'm sure they have that saying in their business. And it's precisely why, when people in their business are in charge of government, it becomes a police state. If privacy and security really were a zero-sum game, we would have seen mass immigration into the former East Germany and modern-day China. While it's true that police states like those have less street crime, no one argues that their citizens are fundamentally more secure.

We've been told we have to trade off security and privacy so often -- in debates on security versus privacy, writing contests, polls, reasoned essays and political rhetoric -- that most of us don't even question the fundamental dichotomy.

But it's a false one.

Security and privacy are not opposite ends of a seesaw; you don't have to accept less of one to get more of the other. Think of a door lock, a burglar alarm and a tall fence. Think of guns, anti-counterfeiting measures on currency and that dumb liquid ban at airports. Security affects privacy only when it's based on identity, and there are limitations to that sort of approach.

Since 9/11, approximately three things have potentially improved airline security: reinforcing the cockpit doors, passengers realizing they have to fight back and -- possibly -- sky marshals. Everything else -- all the security measures that affect privacy -- is just security theater and a waste of effort.

By the same token, many of the anti-privacy "security" measures we're seeing -- national ID cards, warrantless eavesdropping, massive data mining and so on -- do little to improve, and in some cases harm, security. And government claims of their success are either wrong, or against fake threats.

The debate isn't security versus privacy. It's liberty versus control.

You can see it in comments by government officials: "Privacy no longer can mean anonymity," says Donald Kerr, principal deputy director of national intelligence. "Instead, it should mean that government and businesses properly safeguard people's private communications and financial information." Did you catch that? You're expected to give up control of your privacy to others, who -- presumably -- get to decide how much of it you deserve. That's what loss of liberty looks like.

It should be no surprise that people choose security over privacy: 51 to 29 percent in a recent poll. Even if you don't subscribe to Maslow's hierarchy of needs, it's obvious that security is more important. Security is vital to survival, not just of people but of every living thing. Privacy is unique to humans, but it's a social need. It's vital to personal dignity, to family life, to society -- to what makes us uniquely human -- but not to survival.

If you set up the false dichotomy, of course people will choose security over privacy -- especially if you scare them first. But it's still a false dichotomy. There is no security without privacy. And liberty requires both security and privacy. The famous quote attributed to Benjamin Franklin reads: "Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." It's also true that those who would give up privacy for security are likely to end up with neither.

This essay originally appeared on Wired.com.

Posted on January 29, 2008 at 5:21 AM • 97 Comments

Comments

Andy WillinghamJanuary 29, 2008 5:49 AM

Security is a need that we all have and privacy is seen as a "bonus". What people don't realize is that when they give up privacy then they will ultimately become less secure. The difference is that the "enemy" changes. It may not be terrorist any longer now it is the government or the rogue elements within government.

AnonymousJanuary 29, 2008 6:06 AM

privacy is a right, security is what we pay our taxes for.
in losing our privacy to increase a nation's security is counter-intuitive to me.

KeithJanuary 29, 2008 6:15 AM

I was watching the first series of the West Wing (S01E09) at the weekend, and, when considering Supreme Court nominees they say "Privacy will be the great battle of the next decades". That was 1999. They were right. And they knew it before September 11th.

HugoJanuary 29, 2008 6:38 AM

What is often assumed is that the government owns the country. It's therefor assumed that the government is responsible for our security. Everything we do and everywhere we go, the government must protect us in all cases. This is wrong!

A country is owned by its citizens. The government is there to organize the country. We tell (via elections) the government what to do with the country. We therefor should also tell the government what to do in order to protect us, not the other way around.

The only one who is responsible for your security is YOU. It's time people start acting like it. It's often said that security and privacy are two opposites. If you plan and organize it well, security and privacy can very well go hand-in-hand. But that's a too long story for this comment field.

bobdoleJanuary 29, 2008 6:46 AM

You were supposed to mock the boundary conditions which a statement like "privacy and security are a zero sum game" yields...
"I'm naked in public but at least I'm super secure!" oh wait...then you get to go to jail and be secure (except for the anal I suppose)...never mind, he was right!

shadowfirebirdJanuary 29, 2008 7:21 AM

@Hugo: "What is often assumed is that the government owns the country. It's therefore assumed that the government is responsible for our security."

I agree, but the real problem is that the government assume this, too. And who is going to stop them? I don't think there are enough genuinely security-aware voters to do so.

Tremaine LeaJanuary 29, 2008 7:25 AM

In order to retain privacy, citizens will have to start reclaiming their own security instead of depending on third parties to provide every scrap of it. When you cease managing your own security, you give up freedom.

Timmy303January 29, 2008 7:50 AM

Aye. I can personally address enough risks to myself and family that I don't need a buncha other guys elbowing into that space, even if they think they can do it better. Mostly because there are levels of access to peoples' lives that it's stupid to trust other people with, especially in an age where capabilities to garner that access are growing faster than the accountability needed to oversee their use of it.

brain[sic]January 29, 2008 8:11 AM

To sum up, succinctly:

The false dichotomy of security vs. privacy assumes that security is someone else's responsibility.

slipJanuary 29, 2008 8:25 AM

Airport security is NOT a waste of time. Sniffing for explosives is extremely important. Even a small explosive detonated along the fuselage in certain places will cripple the control system. What good are stronger cockpit doors then, or Sky Marshalls??? That plane is going down.

Clive RobinsonJanuary 29, 2008 8:39 AM

"If privacy and security really were a zero-sum game, we would have seen mass immigration into the former East Germany and modern-day China."

It's a question of view point, in the short term it is genrally not a zero sum game, in the long term however it appears to be (due to changes in other factors).

For instance the state with more CCTV than any other country is the U.K. (it is also as rapidly as possible trying to implement other more "Orwellian" technology).

One estimate indicates that the against the population the U.K. has twenty times as many cams per head as the next state... Does this make people in the U.K. any more secure? No we are seeing significant increases in crimes involving guns and knives on the streets..

Is the U.K. National Identity system going to give more "security" not a chance (it will however serverly effect Tax avoidance by those at the bottom of the heap).

Then look back at East Germany and Albania they were supposedly the most opressive societies due to "State Security" services monitoring. What happened, they colapsed economicaly as they could no longer afford the costs of their policies. The result that they now have comparitivly low levels of monitoring.

There is always a trade off between the "States right to know" and the individuals "right to privacy" it is pure FUD to make the claim that the "States right to know" is in anyway related to "security" except for those currently in power.

In the end all opresive "security" is bound to fail it's stated purpose of security and also shortly afterwards it's unstated purpose of "mass survalence".

If people look back in Bruce's blog you will find postings looking at this in more depth.

stephaneJanuary 29, 2008 8:51 AM

@Framecrash: Encrypting things will not make you safe. In a world where the government has a /right/ to see everything about you, you're just "proving" yourself guilty by encrypting things.

Some problem do not have a technological solution, I'm afraid.

GregWJanuary 29, 2008 9:27 AM

That is a great article. Thanks Bruce.

While I've read this sort of thing (with the obligatory-yet-wise Ben Franklin quote) for years, there were three particularly strong points that I don't think classic privacy advocates articulate as well as you just did:

"If privacy and security really were a zero-sum game, we would have seen mass immigration into the former East Germany and modern-day China. While it's true that police states like those have less street crime, no one argues that their citizens are fundamentally more secure."

"Security affects privacy only when it's based on identity, and there are limitations to that sort of approach."

and

"If you set up the false dichotomy, of course people will choose security over privacy -- especially if you scare them first. But it's still a false dichotomy. There is no security without privacy. And liberty requires both security and privacy. "

Well put.

JohnDJanuary 29, 2008 9:33 AM

One way to achieve security and privacy, while at the same time ensuring it is not viewed as a zero sum game, is to make one agency responsible and accountable for both security and privacy, with a separate oversight body for each requirement.

jdegeJanuary 29, 2008 9:57 AM

The reason people are demanding security is because they don't feel secure. They don't feel secure because they aren't secure. They aren't secure because they no longer have the will or the means to protect themselves.

Render the people helpless and they will demand a police state, for their own protection.

Caleb JonesJanuary 29, 2008 10:03 AM

I personally feel that this is a side effect of our society's increasing desire to absolve ourselves from the consequences of our own actions. An example of this is seen in the idea that whenever something negative happens we feel it MUST be someone else's fault and we are entitled to make them pay. This pops up in many different areas of society:

-law - the 'cost' to hold someone responsible for their actions is getting higher and higher
-religion/philosophy - people *love* teachings that tell them there's no (or very limited) consequences for their actions
-free-speech - the idea that you can say ANYTHING without being held responsible (ie: political spin)

What's dangerous about this trend is that there is a certain breaking point (don't know if we've hit it yet or not) where freedoms in a society become meaningless as the actions they afford are trumped by the same society's desire to have no consequences.

Freedom implies responsibility for one's actions. You can't pick and choose between those two. And the government sees the removal of privacy as necessary to give the people what they want.

Let's not forget that, at least to a certain degree, government is of our own making. If we lose our privacy it is because we gave it away (at least at first).

derfJanuary 29, 2008 10:04 AM

You saw how well local, state, and federal governments worked when dealing with the security of the people of New Orleans. The military was particularly effective in eliminating the most immediate threats, after the fact, while the politicians (who got us into the situation in the first place) wandered around grandstanding (or in the case of William Jefferson, commandeering National Guard troops to his home to destroy evidence). Are these the people you want to trust with your security, privacy, healthcare, retirement, or anything else you may deem important?

Paul RenaultJanuary 29, 2008 10:05 AM

I want to write a long, thoughtful, cogent reply... But I've got to rush off to take care of a client... Sigh.

In the meanwhile: Anyone who mentions Maslow's Hierachy of Needs get both of my thumbs up! (High Five!)


RoyJanuary 29, 2008 10:27 AM

Private as the opposite of public. What is my own is private; what the government owns is public.

The real perversion is that the government is becoming increasingly secretive in conducting the public's business at the same time it is eradicating individual privacy.

The government is turning its scrutiny on the people it is supposed to serve, while shielding its own doings from public scrutiny. As the people lose their privacy, the government gains privacy for itself.

Maybe now is the time to turn open-sourcing on the government. If they're doing nothing wrong, they have nothing to fear from public scrutiny, right?

AnonymousJanuary 29, 2008 10:31 AM

@Slip
>> Airport security is NOT a waste of time. Sniffing for explosives is extremely important . . . That plane is going down.

Point? Killing a couple hundred people is small potatoes; any self-respecting terrorist can do that pretty much any time they want, if they don't mind dying either then or shortly thereafter. We lost FOUR jetliners on 11 September, people still fly.

The security theater of TSA is necessary to reassure business travelers that it's safe to fly. Even though we know better, the perception that the government is "trying" carries great weight.

It would take enormous moral courage to simply allow pilots and flight attendants (you know, the ones who get killed if they miss something) to screen their planes any way they want, and skip the TSA. Forcing screeners at random to fly with someone they just hand-cleared would work wonders too.

I am vastly amused that in the rush to allegedly avert risk, most people are more than willing to surrender the privacy and freedoms of others, not realizing the true end to a game titled "What's mine is mine, what's yours is negotiable.".

The last time I saw an armored cockpit door was two years ago. The last time I flew was last week. I rest my case.

xd0sJanuary 29, 2008 10:32 AM

@Bruce

This paragraph nails it head on, great work!

"If you set up the false dichotomy, of course people will choose security over privacy -- especially if you scare them first. But it's still a false dichotomy. There is no security without privacy. And liberty requires both security and privacy. The famous quote attributed to Benjamin Franklin reads: "Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." It's also true that those who would give up privacy for security are likely to end up with neither. "

It covers the essence of the current problem very concisely.

The sad truth is, when we give up privacy (aka control) to the government, it is inevitable that this control is turned upon us and lose our security from the very source that promised to us in the first place. We won't need Islamic Extremists to threaten our freedom. Our government will have removed the freedom, therefore removed the threat to it.

Then maybe we can finally be secure. Um, yeah.

AnonymousJanuary 29, 2008 10:37 AM

and just in time,

UK gov issued 250k phone tap licences in nine months

"...Local authorities vary widely in their use of communications data. Some 474 local authorities can get phone tap and other comms data, but in the period only 122 used that power. Those 122 authorities made 1,694 requests to identify rogue traders, fly tippers and housing benefit cheats...."


http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/01/29/...

abhijitJanuary 29, 2008 10:39 AM

Another thought struck me when I was reading your post.

Let's assume we give up all our privacy. All. Let's assume everything is being observed everywhere. Let's assume the governments is watching bank accounts, email communication, monitoring the internet, the whole works.

Now, if a terrorist attack happens, who do I hold accountable? Conversely, what is the price the government owes to it's citizens for it's lack of fulfilling it's promise.

For people who choose to go along with the Security vs. Privacy debate and want to keep seeing it as one or the other, I think they should also ask what they get in return in case of unforseen events.

I mean a deal is a deal, right? I've given someone a job to do. He asks me to make compromises for it. I do that. Now if he fail in his job, what is going to be the recompense to me?

For me, unless this aspect is clarified as well, even the security / privacy viewpoint is not complete.

Keith McMillanJanuary 29, 2008 10:45 AM

I personally drives me crazy to see "security in a theater", and to see the continual decay of privacy and other civil rights. As Roy mentioned, it's particularly distressing in the light of an administration that increasingly claims executive privilege, or classifies information for political reasons (in direct contradiction to the law).

I'd like to think that the problem is a lack of a right to privacy. I use the little "r" here to refer to those granted to us by the Constitution, because I'd like to think that we do have a Right to privacy, even if it's not granted by the documents.

However, that hasn't stopped the increasingly controlling state from ignoring rights already in the Constitution (Right to trial? Who needs it! Freedom from unreasonable search and seisure after review by a judge? Nah!). So unfortunately I don't think a right to privacy in the Constitution would really have helped. Until the people get outraged, and force a change, then the decay of our rights will continue. I frankly hold little hope that this will happen.

At the risk of being seen as self-serving here, I posted an article last week on the right to privacy, after the stories on the ability of law enforcement to search your smartphone if you're pulled over for a traffic violation, which dovetails nicely into this conversation. It's at http://www.adeptechllc.com/2008/01/23/...

Carlo GrazianiJanuary 29, 2008 10:48 AM

I don't think it's so useful to argue about whether or not security and privacy sum to zero.

What is driving us towards becoming a high-surveillance police state is the fact that the benefits of security are immediate and tangible, while those of privacy, while at least as important, are intangible. This inevitable skews any cost-benefit analysis towards security, and is the reason that securocrats have been winning every bureaucratic battle since 9/11 scared everyone.

Privacy has no constituency in government. Security has the most powerful and budgetarily-seductive constituency in government. As a bureaucratic matter, there is only one possible outcome of this imbalance, and it's not pretty. Those references to East Germany are going to seem less and less eccentric as time goes on.

A Department of Privacy might help rectify the bureaucratic pathology, and if it had enough Congressional support it might even survive efforts to kill it by paranoid securocrats and politicians. It's a pipe dream, I know. However, I know who I'd propose to be the first Secretary of Privacy, Bruce...

jdegeJanuary 29, 2008 10:57 AM

"I personally feel that this is a side effect of our society's increasing desire to absolve ourselves from the consequences of our own actions. An example of this is seen in the idea that whenever something negative happens we feel it MUST be someone else's fault and we are entitled to make them pay."

Yep. And the counter to that is people's increasing reluctance to accept responsibility for anything - including their own safety.

"Give them what they want", "don't fight back", "leave it to the professionals". It's corrosive advice, and we're suffering from decades of accumulation.

Dave XJanuary 29, 2008 11:08 AM

It is interesting that our constitution frames a right to privacy as security: "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated..."

We're giving up privacy whether we like it or not. With the advances in surveillance technology, even if we don't cede control of surveillance to the government, private parties will soon be able monitor us to the point we have no significant privacy. Pointing a set of fast cameras at roadways and hooking them up to text recognition software will be able to track us more effectively than chips in our cars. If just a few retailers put readable RFID chips in their valued customer cards, malls could track your trips through the entire mall experience. If a 4-ounce cell phone can read packages to the blind, what could a security camera learn in a subway? With the current telcom immunity issue, how far are we from making it a crime to destroy server logs that could potentially destroy evidence?

Privacy the way we normally think of it will soon be gone, whether or not we explicity trade it for a promise of security or sell it for a 2% discount on crap. What we need to do is make sure we retain control of our rights.

The privacy vs security dichotomy is also false because we'll lose privacy anyway.

rishiJanuary 29, 2008 11:10 AM

I want to beileve you, but i dont think you have made your case. The substantive part of the argument is "Since 9/11, approximately three things have potentially improved airline security: reinforcing the cockpit doors, passengers realizing they have to fight back and -- possibly -- sky marshals."

The problem with this is that it would have not caught the shoe bomber.

JasonJanuary 29, 2008 11:16 AM

@rishi
"The problem with this is that it would have not caught the shoe bomber."

I'm waiting for the guy who tries to smuggle a bomb in the lining of his underwear or hides a pipe bomb in a bodily cavity so we all have to get strip searched before we can board the plane.

At some point, it becomes ridiculous. Well, ridiculous to the common person, but not to the government.

tom brandtJanuary 29, 2008 11:27 AM

@rishi,

the shoe bomber failed because some alert passenger noticed what he was up to and stopped him. The security measures Bruce advocates worked in this instance.

xd0sJanuary 29, 2008 11:38 AM

@rishi

The shoe bomber was caught by observation of unusual smells by passengers followed by standard Flight Crew response to the incident(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Colvin_Reid) not a result of a security measure implemented by a government. You are correct that cabin doors had nothing to do with it, but according to the Wiki entry the passengers did in fact assist in subduing him, and it isn't clear if any sky marshal was present or not, making it impossible to determine if the presence would've changed things.

So while the security theater failed, the overall security didn't, largely due to incompetence / luck that the shoe bomb didn't light or detonate quickly, observant passengers, and flight crew response.

AnonymousJanuary 29, 2008 11:40 AM

"The problem with this is that it would have not caught the shoe bomber."

Umm, read much? The passengers stopped the shoe bomber. That's part of Bruce's text you quoted.

Even ignoring that your premise is factually wrong, it's not relevant. You will never be 100% safe, and the problem with all the intrusive post 9-11 security is that it's a lot of hassle for no security gain. Taxpayers are paying lots of money for the privilege of being pointlessly inconvenienced.

More of the sameJanuary 29, 2008 11:48 AM

@Calo Graziani

"A Department of Privacy might help rectify the bureaucratic pathology,"

Great idea! Government bureaucracy is the problem, so let's solve it by creating...wait for it...more bureaucracy!

Let statism ring!

AnonymousJanuary 29, 2008 11:49 AM

@rishi : so you think if we'd been screening shoes at the time, Richard Reid couldn't have figured out how to put explosive into a kids toy, fake candy bar, or spare laptop battery? And if we'd banned each of those things, he couldn't have come up with another hiding place?

But the point isn't that screening will never be perfect (even though it won't). The point is that perfect airline screening won't stop terrorists; it will just move them to other targets. With those three measures in place, but no screening, the most anyone can do on a plane is bring it down (and that's not as easy as it seems; I doubt the shoe bomber would have done it), killing about 150 people. But you can kill 150 people without getting on a plane. In fact, you don't even need to kill yourself in the process (McVeigh, anyone?).
So perfect screening would only shift the target from an airplane to an office building, sports stadium, or long line of people waiting to go through airport security; each of which could easily supply 150 victims.

Grant BugherJanuary 29, 2008 11:53 AM

The government has a hard time realizing that security and privacy are not opposites for two reasons: first of all, government confuses identification with security, and second, privacy has a very narrow meaning in the United States.

Much of our post-9/11 security measures are focused on identification, as if knowing who someone is will tell us their intentions. Unfortunately, it's not the case -- knowing someone's identity does not tell you if they're a terrorist, and detecting likely terrorists does not necessarily entail identifying them (note behavioral profiling, etc.) You must reduce privacy to get universal identification -- and the government is stuck on the idea that security needs that.

Privacy law in the U.S. is entirely focused on keeping data private from the government. Thus, law enforcement's data gathering frequently requires reducing privacy laws, and they come to see privacy as the enemy -- something of no use to them but which impedes them. European countries have much broader privacy laws, restricting the use of data (by private citizens and corporations, not just government) without necessarily relying on secrecy. Thus, even law enforcement benefits from privacy laws and stands to lose something if their scope is reduced.

Carlo GrazianiJanuary 29, 2008 12:02 PM

@More of the same

If you ignore how government actually works, you can't fix it. "Bureaucracy Is Bad" is code for "I don't want to think about governance".

It is childish to suppose that if a problem arises from a bureaucracy, you can make the problem go away by abolishing the bureaucracy. Bureaucracy is a fact of life in government. You either make it work for you, or you don't. What you can't do is make it go away.

Nomen PublicusJanuary 29, 2008 12:21 PM

It's the same old wishful thinking, "If only we had sufficient data, we could discover evil terrorist plots before they are executed."

But, you can't get the data without reducing the country to the level of East Germany under the STAZI and even then, what are you going to look for? What correlations are significant, which are not?

You just can't search for very rare events in a torrent of raw data without having a huge amount of previous examples. It might take 20 years to gather sufficient data to recognise a common attack. There might never be sufficient data.

In the mean time, you've created an intolerant, suspicious, oppressed society and the terrorists will feel quite at home.

AlanJanuary 29, 2008 12:43 PM

@Nomen Publicus

One of the side effects of a STAZI-like state is the slow drift into rampant paranoia. The state starts seeing EVERYONE as a possible threat. ("If you are not with us, you are with the enemy.")

"Terrorist" is also a pretty weak description these days. It gets applied to all sorts of behavior that has nothing to do with death and destruction. My definition of "terrorist" will not be the same as yours and will be different than the average FOX viewer. (Who are conditioned to believe that Democrats are secretly terrorists.) It has become a political term instead of a descriptive one.

Terrorist these days has morphed into a term for "someone who does not share my ideology and has a chance of opposing me".

I am looking for evidence to show that our leaders are not totally bat-shit insane. So far, I not found much evidence making the case for sanity.

The situation reminds me of a Walt Kelly poem called "The Prince of Pompadoodle". Much of Pogo seems to applicable to the current times.

Penelope MerriwetherJanuary 29, 2008 12:57 PM

I think there should be more conversation about what leads to becoming a totalitarian government, and what steps we have made toward that. Those steps should be discussed as a whole as well and consideration to whether there is a master plan being the guiding force. Most people see "loss of freedom" as something traded for being "secure", not as a step toward a much more frightening and devastating result.

Penelope MerriwetherJanuary 29, 2008 12:58 PM

I think there should be more conversation about what leads to becoming a totalitarian government, and what steps we have made toward that. Those steps should be discussed as a whole as well and consideration to whether there is a master plan being the guiding force. Most people see "loss of freedom" as something traded for being "secure", not as a step toward a much more frightening and devastating result.

MarkJanuary 29, 2008 1:05 PM

@slip
Airport security is NOT a waste of time. Sniffing for explosives is extremely important. Even a small explosive detonated along the fuselage in certain places will cripple the control system.

You still have to get the explosive into the right place. Using a small quantity of explosive to derail a train could cause much more destruction.

More of the sameJanuary 29, 2008 1:33 PM

@Carlo Graziano

""Bureaucracy Is Bad" is code for "I don't want to think about governance"."

No. Thinking that 'Bureaucracy Is Bad' means something other than that bureaucracy is bad is symptomatic of sticking one's head in the sand when statist interference fails yet again. Blind faith in a failed system isn't a virtue.

"It is childish to suppose that if a problem arises from a bureaucracy, you can make the problem go away by abolishing the bureaucracy."

Who's supposing that? The problems created by government bureaucracies persist for decades after they're created. The reason to dismantle a bureaucracy is to prevent that instance of problem creation from creating even more problems.

"Bureaucracy is a fact of life in government. You either make it work for you, or you don't. What you can't do is make it go away."

Not as long as misguided thinking promotes the creation of even more bureaucracy. Most statists would go to any length to deny that their agendas create more bureaucracy; it's a refreshing flashback to the late 19th century's thinking to see it embraced as inevitable.

Check here to see the results of better thinking: http://www.heritage.org/index/

When it comes to statist interference, nothing is inevitable but that poor thinking makes it so.

jon liveseyJanuary 29, 2008 1:40 PM

Very good comments here, but one issue not mentioned - unless I missed it - is corruption. In a State where snooping is - at least potentially - universal, the incentive to bribe officials to "look the other way" becomes very great indeed.

Moreover, the more snooping there is, the lower the quality of officials who do it, and the lower the ethical standard.

I lived in the USSR in the Seventies, and streets were safe, but the intrusive power of the State was so great and so ubiquitous that everyone accepted bribery as normal for this reason.

For those who worked for the State - who were far too many and of limited talents - the career risks of not supervising were high enough that they had to be paid not to supervise, simply because they could be paid not to supervise. If I can collect an income by not snooping, what's my motivation to not snoop if no-one pays me not to?

Of course, this principle applies more widely than supervision. If a country like India erects a "license Raj" run by officials with arbitrary powers, then those with the power to grant licenses can be paid to do so, and thus eventually have to be paid to do so.

MikeAJanuary 29, 2008 2:00 PM

"I think there should be more conversation about what leads to becoming a totalitarian government..."

Only if you believe Bruce will never be served a secret National Secirty Letter to get his server logs. "Question Authority, and surely the Authorities will Question you". (And nowadays that can be very hazardous to your health)

J HJanuary 29, 2008 2:36 PM

@More of the same

""A Department of Privacy might help rectify the bureaucratic pathology,"

Great idea! Government bureaucracy is the problem, so let's solve it by creating...wait for it...more bureaucracy!

Let statism ring!"

Canada has a privacy commissioner, and she does an excellent job holding the government accountable.

lost & deludedJanuary 29, 2008 2:47 PM

I composed the following after I read this on wired.com. It needs to be prefaced by "Dear Bruce" in order to make sense. I'm too lazy rewrite it as a blog comment. I'm also not convinced this will make any sense to all the naive libertarians around here, but any, Dear Bruce,

"Privacy is unique to humans, but it's a social need."

That's not strictly true. Animals protect their privacy - at the very least, they work to hide their weaknesses. They do so to enhance their security. Displaying weakness can get an animal killed, either by tweaking the interest of a predator or getting it expelled from its social community. I saw an interesting example of this on television once. A dog that had just been spayed and brought out of anesthesia was active and appeared to be in no pain. She was then put in a recovery room with a hidden camera. As soon the humans left and the door was closed the dog curled up and quivered in pain - she stopped hiding her pain. The minute the door opened she perked up and acted as though she felt fine. She kept her pain private. Beyond that, other species protect their privacy in other ways. Many species hide their nests. Even animals know that privacy increases security.

For a more human example, consider the plight of the mentally ill. Most mentally ill people function quite effectively with just outpatient treatment. On the other hand, despite anti-discrimination laws, mentally ill people are more likely to lose jobs or housing or have difficulty finding jobs or housing if their illness is publicly known. There are many places that even have laws that discriminate against the mentally ill. In my state concealed carry permits (apropos of the discussion over a recent blog post of yours) are denied to those who have simply been diagnosed with certain illnesses. How safe can mentally ill people feel when expected to live in an armed society but denied the right to arm themselves? For many of the mentally ill reducing their privacy reduces their security. I have to wonder how fast most mentally ill people would be added to the no-fly list if they were required to divulge their diagnosis.

When increasing privacy increases security or decreasing privacy decreases security, as in the case of these basic examples, privacy vs. security cannot be a "zero-sum game". In a zero sum game decreasing one must necessarily increase the other and vice-versa. That's what "zero-sum" means. Any other use of the term "zero-sum game" is just deceptive propaganda. Based on the quote in your article Ed Giorgio either doesn't understand privacy and security or he doesn't understand game theory (or he's engaging in deceptive propaganda, but why give him that much credit).

Being the quasi-mathematician that I am, if someone told me that some social behavior was a zero-sum game I'd expect them to produce and justify the game-theoretic model they used to come to that conclusion. I would expect them to be able to explain why no other game-theoretic model worked, since there are many other kinds of games and social behavior is rarely as simple as a zero-sum game. I'd even go so far as to assume that a zero-sum game was too simple a model without very strong evidence to the contrary. Of course, most of the time I'd simply assume they were engaging in deceptive propaganda.

Anyway, I enjoyed your article but I think you made a fundamental mistake and weakened your position when you claimed that privacy is uniquely human. More importantly, though, privacy vs. security is demonstrably not a zero-sum game.

LeoJanuary 29, 2008 3:07 PM

@J H
"Canada has a privacy commissioner, and she does an excellent job holding the government accountable."

Yes, but Canada, like European countries and Japan and a few others, has a real democracy that actually responds to the people, that is, a parliamentary democracy. Americans have a broken presidential democracy, despite all their claims of having the greatest democracy in the world. Parliamentary governments actually respond to their people. It's hard to have a responsive government when you elect a king every four years and keep the main legislative body in constant turmoil with elections every two years. Americans think that government can't work because their government is inherently broken and really can't work. It would be nice if Americans would start using that amendment procedure they have in their constitution and start building a real democracy in their country, something consistent with 20th century democratic theory, instead of maintaining that incredibly ignorant belief that democratic theory stopped developing in the 18th century. Maybe then they'd understand what governments really can and can't do.

Libertarians and Republicans need to stop telling the lie that "government is the problem" and recognize that the real problem is that America doesn't have a truly democratic government. Non-democratic government is the problem. The solution isn't less government. It's more democracy.

More of the sameJanuary 29, 2008 3:45 PM

@J H

"Canada has a privacy commissioner, and she does an excellent job holding the government accountable."

Canada. You bet. With the Canadian government spending 40% of the GDP, I would hope you'd get something for your money.

I wonder if private industry could do it more efficiently? Hmm....

More of the sameJanuary 29, 2008 3:50 PM

@Leo

"The solution isn't less government. It's more democracy."

You bet. Cuba has a 95% voter turnout rate. Can't get much more democratic than that. Time to emulate, eh?

AnonymousJanuary 29, 2008 4:03 PM

@More of the same

Cuba and voter turnout have absolutely nothing to do with what I said. Voting is not a measure of how democratic a government is, whether it's done in Cuba or Iraq. Basically, you don't know what you're talking about but apparently you can't resist making snarky comments. Go read a book, preferably one on democratic political theory, if you can.

Jeff CraigJanuary 29, 2008 4:15 PM

@Leo

This country isn't a true Democracy, and it never has been. Do you know why? Because the founding fathers recognized that the average person had neither the time, inclination, nor often the basic ability to truly make an educated decision on most issues.

I don't think we've fundamentally changed that much as a society. And I believe that shows in the fact that the average American is so apathetic that they can't recognize corruption in their own elected officials, or do anything about it when they do recognize it. We need to learn to function effectively as the Democratic Republic we are today before we can ever dream of being a true Democracy (though I think that would likely be a worse idea).

But, for the real reason I'm posting, Bruce this is an excellent article, very well thought out and you have plenty of supporting evidence. I'm doing what I can, but this fight is far from over.

More of the sameJanuary 29, 2008 4:31 PM

@Anonymous

Sorry. Thought my comments were pithy, not snarky.

Voting is the essence of democracy. Without it, you don't have democracy. Any book on political science will tell you that.

I suppose what you are trying to say is that respect for a litany of rights is what defines a democracy, but nothing is as central to democracy as elections which take place through voting.

Parliamentary democracy has no inherent guarantees of "justice", "fairness", "equality" or any other value you may favor. Parliaments are composed of people who vote, and voting in and of itself certainly doesn't always result in The Good. Just ask Ireland.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/...

LeoJanuary 29, 2008 4:42 PM

@Jeff Craig
"This country isn't a true Democracy, and it never has been."

I presume that you're making the false "republic not a democracy" argument that U.S. conservatives are so fond of. It's a false argument because a republic is a democracy. The U.S. government was set up to be a representative democracy, based on the political theory of the time. A republic is a representative democracy, which is different from the direct democracy you seem so troubled by. The problem with the U.S. as a representative democracy, or a republic, is that the political theory about representative democracy has advanced since the 18th century but the U.S. government hasn't. The dishonest claim that the U.S. was not intended to be a democracy is just an excuse to justify the failings of the existing U.S. government.

Anyway, this has wondered well off-topic, primarily my fault, I suspect, and the level of political ignorance around here is too high for me to want to play anymore. The problem is that if you don't understand what government is and what it is and is not capable of you really can't properly discuss the roles of security and privacy in a society.

LeoJanuary 29, 2008 4:57 PM

@More of the same
"Voting is the essence of democracy. Without it, you don't have democracy. Any book on political science will tell you that."

Wrong. Many non-democratic systems incorporate voting. Any book on political science will tell you that. Maybe you should read one. Voting is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for a democracy. Voting is not the essence of a democracy. It's what's done with the vote that matters, and what's done with it in the U.S. just isn't that good, although it is better than Cuba.

The reason Americans mistakenly equate civil rights with democracy is because that is the one thing Americans used to be best at, internally at least, not so much at all now.

But, as I said to Jeff, the quality of this discussion is just too low. I give up.

AnonymousJanuary 29, 2008 5:03 PM

@Leo

"...the level of political ignorance around here is too high for me to want to play anymore..."

Good riddance!

KellyJanuary 29, 2008 5:17 PM

Bruce, this is an excellent piece.

When I think about these issues, I am drawn to analogize the situation to that of an animal in a zoo. Secure, perhaps. But at a significant loss to its liberty.

Don't we deserve better? One of the problems with this continuing attack on our privacy is that we allow it to happen. We let ourselves be convinced that it's for our own good, that so long as we have nothing to hide then we have nothing to worry about. We place our trust in our zookeepers, and hope that they will be beneficent.

We need to be intelligent enough to assess the risks that life throws our way, brave enough to accept the ones that we can take on ourselves, and stingy with our reliance on others to do it for us. If we behave like sheep then we will be treated like sheep. Mutton, anyone?

jdegeJanuary 29, 2008 5:36 PM

"Voting is the essence of democracy. Without it, you don't have democracy."

Democracy isn't the end. Individual liberty is the end, democracy is the means.

AnonymouseJanuary 29, 2008 8:28 PM

1. To pursue absolute security is to pursue a will-'o-the-wisp. Security (of all kinds) is relative. We can never be "safe" -- we can only be "safer" or "less safe".

2. Those who cede (or lose) Liberty often do not receive additional security in return. Prisoners have little Liberty -- and even less security than those not incarcerated; Romanian citizens traded improved security from street crime for badly reduced security against rapacious, tyrannical, and incompetent government agents.

3. WMDs are not new. A modest team of well-trained marksmen with automatic rifles could kill as many people as died on 9/11 in just a few minutes. The terrorists know this. Do our governments?

4. Some people really do "hate us for our freedom", and most of them work for governments.

5. Whatever happened to the spirit that said, "Live Free or Die"?

jammitJanuary 29, 2008 11:54 PM

Forgive me for posting a smarmy comment.
If we have no privacy, we have no security.
Is it really easier on resources to verify all the sheep instead of looking for the wolf?

An Angry CitizenJanuary 30, 2008 3:18 AM

I'm sick of this "terrorism" crap.

We're doing exactly what the "terrorists" want: Giving up our freedoms. Changing our way of life.

I pick privacy over "security" any day, and am willing to use any means necessary to enforce it.

cassielJanuary 30, 2008 6:57 AM

As the pro-surveillance camp tend to say (and as has been noted here numerous times): "if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear."

What I think is interesting about this statement is the implication that hiding is bad. Privacy is all about hiding information about ourselves or what we do. As long as I am not breaking the law, I should have a right to hide whatever I like - hiding is good.

(I checked into a hotel in Coventry, UK last night, after missing the last train back to London. Because I was paying for the room in cash (in advance) the receptionist insisted on photocopying some kind of ID: in this case, driver's license. I didn't, but should, have challenged this. If the hotel is being paid cash in advance (and if they can verify that I don't damage the room or the fittings, or run up any other costs), why should they actually care who I am?)

Nancy LebovitzJanuary 30, 2008 9:19 AM

Security can conflict with privacy even when it isn't based on identity. Getting searched is a loss of privacy even if they don't have your name.

paulJanuary 30, 2008 12:03 PM

I would be amazed, if I had the energy, by the notion that anyone even tries to argue that privacy and security are zero-sum. The only way one can even start toward that point is by assuming that the security apparatus is somehow entirely outside the society it ostensibly secures (I won't say "protects", because even that implies too much). Once you have human beings working for the security apparatus, living among the people they examine, subject to the same ups and downs in their everyday lives, the whole notion of security and security threats becomes ill-posed.

And hence the need for privacy.

Dave PageJanuary 31, 2008 8:15 AM

Paul Renault:

> In the meanwhile: Anyone who mentions Maslow's Hierachy of Needs get both of my thumbs up! (High Five!)

Either you have weird thumbs, or you mean "High Two!"

JJanuary 31, 2008 11:32 PM

We elect governments from amongst 'our' numbers, and our ancestors fought bloody wars to reinforce our natural right to do so.

We don't elect them to harm us by spying on us and increasing their own power (and hence corruption) in the process.

We can unelect them, also.

cr0ftFebruary 5, 2008 3:38 AM

Great article. Now if only more of this clear thinking would pervade the US public... we're talking about a people that elected George Bush - twice...

The fact of the matter is that there is no such thing as being secure from all threats. Poeple need to accept that they simply cannot safeguard against everything and move on.

Even the President of the United States can be killed (and let me emphasize I'm talking very much in the abstract, not pondering actual implementation) if the assailant or assailants want it badly enough and are willing to die to accomplish it. Nobody is truly safe.

There is no security. Not really. There is only management of risk. Now, how likely is it some terrorist will go to a random suburb and blow up your house? Not very, yet people have gotten so frightened mostly by the US government rhethoric that they actually think measures should be put in place to defend against such acts and are willing to give up their privacy to see it done.

It's ludicrous and impossible, yet people are blithely willing to let the entire country go down the toilet, abandoning the core values of liberty and privacy for no real gain at all.

And that's not even touching on the other ugly consequences of that fear mongering, such as the concentration camp the US now runs in Cuba, out of sight and out of mind... sheesh.

zahavalaskaFebruary 6, 2008 12:35 AM

I couldn't agree more that "all the security measures that affect privacy" are "just security theater and a waste of effort." I believed this before, and having been through a detention, interrogation, and intimidation process while trying to enter the state of Israel with a Birthright Israel group, I have first hand experience with the ridiculousness of it. You can read my story in two parts at http://zahavalaska.blogspot.com/2008/01/... and http://zahavalaska.blogspot.com/2008/01/...

Am4LibFebruary 12, 2008 6:47 AM

Re:"What our top spy doesn't get", I completely agree with you and have been making the same point since the TSA screening started. However, I just read your article about RealID, and though I agree with your thesis, I would argue it is an Incremental step to better Law Enforcement and counter-intuitively better privacy. As you mentioned there are a wide number of divergent systems tracking our information. One jurisdiction as no connection with another's. This means a criminal in one county, has to simply move to a new county for complete anonymity. I agree that RealID poses a false goal much like the TSA, as in the lines mean you are safe, the card means you are safe. But considering there are currently hundreds of forms of State ID in the US, it makes the ability to forge one form that much easier. A national ID system, IF properly implemented could provide much needed transparency and protection to how our personal information is collected and stored [it is now, but we know very little of all the different processes, rules, regs, etc.]. For one, it could allow integration with Voting registry, instantly enabling someone to be registered upon issue, to vote [we have a cannot drink until 21 stamp, why not a cannot vote until 18 message embedded in the chip].

Am4LibFebruary 12, 2008 7:00 AM

Having read all of the comments, I would like to add:
I think to a degree people are kind of missing the point. Bruce is talking about control. Think of all the minute ways in which the powerful and corrupt [be it government of free enterprise] have control over your life. Can you drink legally in public? You can in just about every other "democracy" in the world. How about the news? TV programs? Education?
Of course the last one is the key, several comments were made about the collective ineptitude of the voting public with regards to Bush and rights, etc. It is no coincidence. The "neo-con" movement have been targeting education for de-funding since the 60's. This is no conspiracy, they knew then, that an uneducated or under-educated electorate is more easy to control. Hence, why the corporate media is not held to it broadcasting agreements of providing for the public good, they are "censoring" news that is unfavorable to corporations and those in control.
Control [power] is the motivating factor in all of this, security is the anti-thesis of terrorism, it is a weapon or a shield depending on your point of view. I WOULD argue that most screening is irrelevant. Aside from TNT connected to a clock, or a gun on my person there is virtually nothing stopping a motivated individual from acting. An analogy I recently used: A gun in the hands of a cop is good, a gun in the hands of murderer is bad. Why are we looking for the gun, not the murderer?

Security and privacy are always a sliding scale, but in the end, the ultimate power rests in the electorate. There is another great quote from Benjamin Franklin, in response to a womans query, "You gave us a democracy?", he replies: "A republic, if you can keep it!"

ChristianFebruary 13, 2008 6:21 AM

Although i am no american i can see the problem.
It evolves here in germany in the exact same manner. All connections with phone or internet accesses have to be stored for at least 6 months.

The number of video surveillance facilities is constantly growing. My personal data is transmitted to the u.s. customs prior to my fligt and arrival, along with my credit card and bank account status.

It's all going to far for my taste.
The most important question for me is:
Is there any such thing as "security" - i personally doubt it. Those terrorists (i we don't have to care from rhat camp they come) will be able to threaten our lives one way or another.
If the the free countries (USA, UK, GER, FRA and so on) continue to cut the liberty rights in favour of security and change our free way of life, the terrorrist succeed anyway.

I truly understand, the fears and anger of the u.s. about what happened on 9/11. I was shocked too (i stood in front of the twin towers 4 month before when i was on vacation in NY).
But is cutting down civil and human rights (or bending and maybe even breaking them) the correct and rightful answer? I DOUBT IT!

The only answer they (the terrorists) understand is - LIVE OUR LIVES AS USUAL AND BEFORE.
Because otherwise they've already won.

How can you fight one back, who believes to die for his idea and/or religion is the greatest goal he can achieve in his (miserable?) life?

I say - roll back all restrictions that cut our liberty. Keep the good checks at the airports and at your customs.


JonFebruary 13, 2008 5:57 PM

There is a big (and mistaken) assumption being presented here in these discussions about security vs. privacy/liberty/whatever.

Part of this is due to the disingenuous ways these things are presented by those in the political/security arena, and part of it is the foolish (and I say foolish because history clearly shows otherwise), naive assumptions many people have about their government/political leaders.

When the state talks about security, everyone presumes that it is the security of the nation's citizens that is being discussed.

They are wrong.

When the state talks about security, it is the security of the state they are talking about.

Court cases, including many Supreme Court decisions, make this fact abundantly clear; the state has no legal responsibility for the security/safety/welfare of any individual citizen.

You're just potential cannon fodder... if they need it.

BumpermeatFebruary 14, 2008 9:40 AM

I agree that most of the "security" measures in place are a band-aid for a bullet wound. They look like they're doing something, but they're not.
Want to get rid of terrorists? Hunt them down and kill them, and pull your head out of the freakin' sand and wake up to the reality that not everyone on this planet has indoor plumbing and flush toilets, let alone $5 cappuccinos every morning.
But God forbid we profile specific groups (muslim males between the ages of 18 and 50) or drill for oil on our own soil so we can quit sending our dollars to countries that have oil and either directly sponsor or turn a blind eye to their own extremists. The ACLU and the "green" movement would have a coronary.
There are good solutions to the problems of privacy and security. The problem is fear-mongering politicians on both sides of the aisle that are more interested in maintaining power than anything else, as well as there willing accomplices in the media who do little more than try and scare people so they keep tuning in every night to see what the latest thing is that they need to be afraid of.

AndyFebruary 15, 2008 9:07 AM

Security is only one of the arguments for invasion of privacy. here in the UK, "streamlining" and "efficiency" seem to serve just as well. Witness the lately announced MIAP examination pass database - a permanent public record of everyone's exam passes, whose primary purpose seems to be to engage government in a "war on cheating" by job applicants.

AnnikaFebruary 15, 2008 10:37 AM

Well Bruce... just wanted to say thank you I guess. Great article. I've been thinking more or less the same for quite a while now, but the way you summed it up and presented arguments for it is just awesome. It helped me a lot in presenting the matter to other people.
I'm involved in privacy campaigning myself, by informing other people, organising demonstrations and also by writing (mostly in German, though, since I live in Germany).
The situation here is not quite as drastic as it seems to be in the US, but we are facing more or less the same problems. Our government seems to take the security-privacy dichotomy for granted and so do most citizens. Naturally, we are getting more and more invasive security theater.
I had the coolest thing happen to me after reading your article. That evening, I was at our weekly information booth (hope that is the right word) about privacy especially in context with data retention, which is enforced in Germany since the beginning of January. There was this middle-aged lady who came over and, upon learning what our intention was, said: "Well, in my opinion it's a good thing. I'm against terrorists." Since my fellow campaigners seemed a bit undecided about how to react I just had a go. I simply said: "Ma'am, we're all against terrorists." I was a bit surprised myself but that totally got her attention. I then explained to her (using among others some of the arguments from your article) why we thought many of the measures enforced by our government were not going to help us and in which ways we thought they were harmful. She left us with a whole lot of information material and a very thoughtful impression and my guess would be she read everything we gave her.
Well, I hope this is not too long or too boring. Just wanted to share I think, and to say that problems are more or less the same over here then where you live... just keep up the great work :-)

AcidicFebruary 19, 2008 6:17 PM

The problem with monitoring anything just means that people won't use that medium to exchange vital and secret information anymore. Monitoring the internet won't help you catch the bad guys who are the real threat to society, because they'll just find their own way to communicate which avoids the internet.

The concept of DRM seems a little like what they're proposing. DRM seems to hurt those who use it legally, while people who want to share media illegally just avoid it and it little more than an inconvenience. The only people left in the hole are those who are not doing anything wrong.

They need to stop showing the illusion of security, and actually give us security. And removing our right to privacy is not a way that will come about.

You can't change the rules of the game because you aren't winning, although I feel a little sheepish for referring to what's going on as a game, that's all it seems to be to the people who are involved. One side is doing illegal activities trying not to get caught, while the other trying to protect the country is trying to catch the people doing illegal activities. Not all games are fun, but again you can't change the playing rules just because you're not winning. The rights we have are what keep us different from the rest of the world, if we get rid of those it will take away what defines us.

Alex ParraFebruary 26, 2008 10:14 AM

I feel that I could give up a little freedom to save a persons life. If this goverment security saves one life, then it's a success.

I am 15 years old and I use the Internet every day, but I have nothing to hide. If it is so bad that our government cannot know about it, then it shouldn't be said or done. (It- being anything we do on the Internet.)

FatBazMarch 10, 2008 11:27 AM

As a newcomer to your site and having read your article on the
above, you do not need to go as far as East Germany and China, the
UK government has given rights to at least 400+ public bodies to
monitor emails, internet traffic, searches, contents of your PC
WITHOUT requiring any special permission and without the knowledge
of the target. This means that any public servant can log on without
justification and monitor your mails. In addition, the UK is the
most monitored society in the world with more than 4 million CCTV
cameras monitoring its' citizens. Also ANY breach of the law is now
an arrestable offence which requires the offender to be
fingerprinted and DNA taken, unlike on the spot fines in the
USA. If cleared the record stays on the police computer together
with the DNA sample. The police can then go "phishing". This record
can then prevent the target from entering the USA on a holiday as he
now has a police record - even for eating an apple, sandwich or
smoking while driving. A case this morning was a lorry driver who
removed his switched off mobile from his pocket to place on the
dashboard was arrested even though he was'nt using the phone!!

I really cannot understand why the US regards our present
socialist/communist government in such high regard. It has a number
of ex communists in it's midst and its' paymasters, the Unions,
still have communist party members and still look at the communist
system as the best system. Any self respecting US citizen would not
even entertain such a party in its' midst let alone vote for it.

Privacy TestingAugust 31, 2009 8:55 AM

Interesting article, perhaps we need more privacy testers. Seems we overlook real testing and depend more on theoretical solutions when it comes to privacy.

NimApril 24, 2010 6:10 PM

I believe there are two types of security
1) National Security- this security does require you to give information and we need to find a balance for this.
and
2) Security of Privacy- like the walls in your house that protect your personal actions , without this security privacy would not exist.

Geoffrey Van WykJuly 1, 2011 2:21 AM

That is awesome, Bruce! I am glad to see there are still some intelligent people left.

Goodness will prevail.

John PaulFebruary 15, 2012 10:15 AM

I believe it was Thomas Jefferson who once said that "Government is the most dangerous of all entities. There-fore all government should be limited."
I do not recall where he said it. If anyone can help with finding out, I will much appreciate it. In any case it expresses the thinking of the founders of our republic.
Thanks,
John Paul

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