On Christmas Eve, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden delivered a Christmas message for British TV station Channel 4, saying, “George Orwell warned us of the danger of this kind of information. The types of collection in the book… are nothing compared to what we have available today. We have sensors in our pockets that track us everywhere we go.
A child born today will grow up with no conception of privacy at all. They’ll never know what it means to have a private moment to themselves — an unrecorded, unanalyzed thought. And that’s a problem, because privacy matters.”
Snowden added, “Privacy is what allows us to determine who we are and who we want to be.” Without moments of privacy, people can’t create, soul search, or even sit down to cry without fear of being interrupted or judged, not just by their own peers, but by government agents as well.
Government officials have claimed that broad surveillance is needed to prevent terrorist attacks, however there is no evidence that the NSA has prevented a single attack from happening. In mid-December, US District Court Judge Richard Leon issued a ruling saying that the NSA program was “almost Orwellian” and “I cannot imagine a more ‘indiscriminate’ and ‘arbitrary invasion’ [of privacy].” Leon added, “Congress should not be able to cut off a citizen’s right to judicial review of that Government action simply because it intended for the conduct to remain secret.” Unlike previous judges, Leon ruled the “plaintiffs have standing to challenge the constitutionality of the [spying program].”
In a separate US District Court case, Judge William Pauley issued a ruling that claims, “The right to be free from searches and seizures is fundamental, but not absolute,” adding, “Every day, people voluntarily surrender personal and seemingly-private information to trans-national corporations, which exploit that data for profit.”
Judge Pauley doesn’t seem to grasp the difference between voluntary interaction, and violations of privacy, nor does he understand that rights are absolute! Everyone, everywhere has the same rights, the difference is to what degree any government recognizes those rights. All humans are born with the right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. Period. End of sentence. There aren’t any notations, footnotes or addendums that say, “except if a legislative body creates a secret court to abolish those rights.”
You have the right to free speech, and free expression, that doesn’t mean that anyone is obligated to provide a platform for you to speak or perform, however your right still exists. You have a right to defend yourself anyway you see fit, that doesn’t mean you have a right to provoke someone to attack you in order to defend yourself, it also doesn’t mean that you can preemptively defend yourself because you think someone might do something to you. You have a right to live, however it isn’t a right to live at someone else’s expense. You have a right to liberty and pursuit of happiness as long as you don’t cause unjust harm to another person. I can only hope that one day society will recognize that rights are absolute.