The US government appears to be taking a leaf out of Tony Blair's book: if something gets in your way, redefine it out of existence. In this case the target is privacy.
In the US - unlike the UK - most people still understand the importance of privacy. They object to being watched, tracked and listened to. Privacy is also (arguably) protected by the constitution
So Donald Kerr, Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence, suggests Americans should redefine privacy. According to AP
Kerr says that "Privacy can no longer mean anonymity".
Clever. That sounds like a trivial technicality. In reality, anonymity is at the heart of privacy. Privacy protects knowledge of who
. Both pillars are important.
Almost everything we do - from buying a book to making a phone call to running a bath - leaves some trace, the "what". If this is connected with the "who" then privacy vanishes.
Yes, I know that these activities aren't truly anonymous now. Someone usually has a record. However at least there is an assumption that these different records won't be accessible to and collated by government. There is an assumption of anonymity except where there is a specific "need to know". Kerr's redefinition would remove that assumption and, by extension, our privacy.
Most worryingly, Kerr goes onto say that privacy should be redefined to mean that "government and businesses properly safeguards people's private communications and financial information."
In other words: "Trust us, we're the government".
Privacy from government
is the most important privacy of all. It's essential for a free society.
Changing the language to get rid of awkward words is a technique used in George Orwell's 1984. The Big Brother government introduces Newspeak, where the language has been altered to make dissent impossible.
You can bet that Newspeak has no word for privacy.
Labels: privacy, US