Privacy is the paramount right of individuals. To be free inside their own homes, their papers (business), and their actions. Except, from every front, an individuals’ privacy is being stolen through technology, government edict, and the courts’ power. Do you even realize how much of your privacy is being subverted for the gain of others? The more I research privacy, the madder I get!
Here is the foundational statement by the Founding Fathers of America on an individuals privacy from the US Bill of Rights and US Constitution as amended:
- Amendment I
(Privacy of Beliefs)
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the government for a redress of grievances.
- Amendment III
(Privacy of the Home)
No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.
- Amendment IV
(Privacy of the Person and Possessions)
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
- Amendment IX
(More General Protection for Privacy?)
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
- Liberty Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment
No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
- Amendment I
1961, Griswold v. Connecticut Justice William O. Douglas declared there are “zones of privacy” that allowed Griswold to purchase contraceptives against the State of Connecticut’s desires. Except, in ruling this way, the “zones of privacy” became the black hole sucking in all the abuses of privacy by technology companies, by the government, and by the courts. Under the “zones of privacy,” abortion has been made legal along with gay sex, both of which fall into the founder’s old legal phrase, “The privacy of families.”
The statute of “The Privacy of Families” stretches back into history and means exactly as it states, the government, the lawyers, and society have no business sticking their noses into “The Privacy of Families.” Only to violate individuals’ privacy and intrude into an individual or family’s business, “Privacy of Families” has been used as a legal excuse for violating privacy and destroying individuals. Consider the sale of educational research data from K-12 students, the sale of HIPAA data for research purposes. If you live in a socialized medicine country, you have even less protection for your private medical data. The business of buying and selling data for research purposes is vast, and anyone who can create an excuse can meet the legal standards of violating your privacy for “science.”
Is the problem a little more explicit; what started as a good thing, “zones of privacy” and “The Privacy of Families,” has morphed into the legal nooses of red tape hanging an individual and family over an ethical morass while some bureaucrat is chopping on the rope. In a legal twist of irony, Alexander Hamilton had to admit he committed adultery and was bribed, over a honey trap created by a married couple, to beat a charge of worse behavior to his social reputation. Hence, the citizenry needs to understand how far the government will stretch to breach an individual’s privacy.
Doesn’t America have laws like FERPA and HIPAA and other privacy legal requirements; absolutely, but are you going to trust the government to protect your records? Were you affected by the OPM Federal Government data breach (2015), the multiple VA data breaches since the loss of 26.5 million unencrypted veterans records (2006), or been a victim of the DMV selling your personal data? I guarantee you have been affected either as a primary, secondary, or tertiary victim of a data hack. Yet, the FISA courts and the “Patriot Act” were explicitly invented to destroy individual and family privacy as unconstitutional actions by a legally elected government.
Reality check, what does the government hold as records?
The stolen VA data has included the names, Social Security numbers, dates of births, and disability ratings for 26.5 million veterans and spouses, on an unencrypted laptop hard drive. Since this first data breach in 2006, the VA has regularly lost additional private medical records, emergency contact information, children records, and other data. I have regularly received a letter from the VA that my data was included in a data breach. I have written about how the VA brags that the flow of data from the VA into nefarious hands slowed a tenth of a percentage point and is to be applauded. Not ended, not stopped, slowed a tenth of a percentage point, as if that was progress.
If you believe the hype, the VA congratulates themselves for not losing any financial data, like account numbers, credit card numbers, and bank information. Except if you lose someone’s full legal name, date of birth, Social Security number, that person WILL take a financial hit! My identity has been stolen, cost me almost $5k in bank fees, overdraft fees, and other charges. The day after I closed my bank account in Phoenix, AZ., a person with my identity walked into the bank branch in Janesville, WI., presenting a check for cash for $500.00. I had spent from January to July complaining that my data had been hacked; the Janesville bank branch did not even bother to call the police.
The Office of Personnel Management data breach, June 2015 (you want to click that link) is as egregious a loss as humanly possible for several reasons:
- Nobody knows how long the tap was leaking data. If you believe the media, the tap was only open for a few short months. If you believe the industry investigators, the tap had been in place for years.
- The data lost included everything on an SF-86 form for background checks and security clearances. My first SF-86 was completed over five days with a military recruiter. It included all my brothers and sister private data, the names and addresses of friends and close associates, and extended family members. My Navy SF-86 was longer as I had previously held security clearances, and a deeper check was ordered.
- Have you ever applied for a security clearance or applied for employment with the Federal Government? Do you have relatives or friends who work for the Federal Government? Guess what; you are either a secondary or tertiary victim of the OPM Data Hack, and nobody has been held accountable, nor has a full accounting of the problem ever been made known to the public.
Hence, the next time you hear about the government “working hard to protect your privacy,” ask them about those data centers in Utah’s desert that hold private data for the government alphabet agencies. Ask about the OPM and VA data hacks. Better still, ask about the IRS data hack in the spring of 2015. While the IRS claims “only 104,000 taxpayers were involved, the reality is much higher, and politicians play games with the truth. Eventually, the game of political hot-potato will end, and that will indeed be a great and dreadful day!
© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.