Las Vegas Sun

October 23, 2014

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Letter to the editor:

Companies already invade our privacy

When you surf the Internet, companies place tracking cookies on your computer so they know the sites you visit, and you give up some of your privacy. When you use GPS on your cellphone or in your car, you give up some of your privacy to communications companies. When you’re out and about and someone uses their cellphone to take an unflattering picture of you and throws it out on the social sites, you lose some of your privacy. When you give up a lot of personal information to Facebook and other social media, you are giving up some of your privacy. When you go to stores with surveillance cameras (of which there are many), you give up some of your privacy. When your email provider uses keywords in your email content to connect with advertisers, you give up some of your privacy. When you fall victim to scammers and phishers, you give up big chunks of privacy.

None of these privacy invasions is by the government. So when the government keeps track of your phone and email activity, why is there so much of a stink about invasion of privacy? We compromise so much of our privacy to corporations without realizing how much they know about us, yet we make such a fuss if the government is involved.

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  1. "None of these privacy invasions is by the government. So when the government keeps track of your phone and email activity, why is there so much of a stink about invasion of privacy?"

    Zeldin -- are you really this ignorant of the Bill of Rights??

    "Indifference to personal liberty is but the precursor of the State's hostility to it." -- United States v. Penn, 647 F.2d 876 (9th Circuit, 1980), Judge Kennedy dissenting

  2. There is a huge difference between giving up privacy rights willingly by consent [as is the case with private sites] or unwillingly without consent [aka by force] by your government. The first is called mutual business enterprise, the second is called government tyranny.

    Carmine D

  3. The Fourth Amendments protects against unreasonable searches and seizures. People tend to forget the word "unreasonable" just like they forget the phrase "well-regulated" when discussing the second amendment. The Bill of Rights involves a careful balancing of interests.

    I personally have no problem with the government collecting data on phone numbers. No one could possibly have a reasonable expectation of keeping that information private -- it's on your phone bill every month -- just ask the thousands who have been caught in affairs because their spouses noticed a series of calls on a statement.

    Anyone calling this type of minimal privacy invasion government "tyranny" is someone with an agenda looking to pick a fight.

  4. The hell with the websites. Credit reporting agencies collect more information on Americans than Americans know about themselves. Whether we give this up willingly or not is debatable. There are great many errors in these credit reports and those errors make it difficult for millions of Americans to conduct their day-to-day affairs.
    The simple act of identity theft can destroy people's lives four months and in some cases even years.

    Mass collection of data by the government hurts no one. People don't even know that is going on. When's the last time someone was unable to buy a house or car because of NSA data collection?

  5. "Anyone calling this type of minimal privacy invasion government "tyranny" is someone with an agenda looking to pick a fight."

    "Mass collection of data by the government hurts no one. People don't even know that is going on."

    Emthree, zippert -- then you're both just as ignorant as Zeldin about the Bill of Rights. There's a reminder @ http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/n...

    "[O]ur law holds the property of every man so sacred, that no man can set his foot upon his neighbour's close without his leave; if he does he is a trespasser, though he does no damage at all; if he will tread upon his neighbour's ground, he must justify it by law." -- from a recent Fourth Amendment decision, United States v. Jones, 132 S.Ct. 945 (01/23/2012)

  6. Face it. Amazon, Google, and Facebook, to name a few, know way more about you than the NSA. All the NSA knows is which phone numbers connect and for how long and rarely do they find a need to pass on information to the FBI who may then find out whose phone it is. Get over the faux outrage!

  7. CarmineD - "There is a huge difference between giving up privacy rights willingly by consent [as is the case with private sites] or unwillingly without consent [aka by force] by your government."

    Do you actually believe you gave consent to coporations that data mine and collect information? They've been doing it for generations without the average consumer being aware of the pratice. Madison Ave. ad men and tv commercials are the result of collected data and information. Sublimation was a practice used until it was outlawed because of the adverse effects. People should make themselves aware of the propaganda subtlety being used on them. Marshall McLuhan wrote about the media and the masses years ago, but I doubt few people heard of him. Hitler's minister of propaganda Joseph Goebbels knew the power of language, something introduced into American politics by Newt Gingrich when he wrote and distributed "Language: A Key Mechanism of Control" amongst the RNC.

    Yes, the government will spy on its citizens, but I fear private companies and organizations more than I do our government. I do however fear other governments because few operate as a democratic-republic as ours does.

  8. "Get over the faux outrage!"

    pisces -- what "faux"? You're free to waive your liberties. You don't get to waive anyone else's, and your choice does not diminish the fact the Bill of Rights still exists and still operates to limit our federal government.

    "I do however fear other governments because few operate as a democratic-republic as ours does."

    VernosB -- when our republic operates outside the limits of its written Constitution it is no longer operating as our legitimate republic. Do you think I make up those quotes at the end of my posts??

    "...a legislative act contrary to the Constitution is not law." -- Marbury v. Madison, 1 Cranch 137, 177 (1803)

  9. The difference between private companies having knowledge about us and the government having knowledge about us is that the government knowledge has much greater potential for abuse. Some people trust our government to use the knowledge properly. My opinion is that eventually power is almost always abused, especially where there is little transparency or accountability.

    It's true that we have a relatively low level of privacy already. With my tax return, my gaming license filing and my FAFSA form filing, the government already knows a lot about me.

    That doesn't mean that I have to agree to give them more. If we use the argument that they've already got a lot of information, so why not let them have just a little more, and we take it to its logical conclusion, we would just give up any right to privacy.

  10. "Do you actually believe you gave consent to corporations that data mine and collect information?"

    I made it clear: It's called mutual business enterprise. I have no issues with businesses "I" choose to have a business relationship knowing my likes and dislikes in goods and services. I have huge objections when my government "spies" on me without asking/telling me in advance.

    Carmine D

  11. ...and if a business abuses/misuses my trust, I end my business relationship with it. What do you do when the government does? End your relationship with it? It's a level playing field with private business. Not so when Uncle Sam turns out to be Big Brother.

    Carmine D

  12. Per CarmineD (Carmine DiFazio) (7:19 a.m.): "There is a huge difference between giving up privacy rights willingly by consent [as is the case with private sites] or unwillingly without consent [aka by force] by your government."

    Far from the least of those differences is the fact that a private company would have a really hard time filing serious criminal charges against you for whatever connections they might find, or create, now or in the future.

    I do deal with companies who ask too many questions - and I do randomly pencil-whip my answers.

    Facebook goes much too far, which is why I don't deal with them. Should I change my mind, I'm quite capable of pencil-whipping an application to the extent that any "data" they might find would be WRONG! They just might find, for example, that I'm a minority female - perhaps Sami or Romani - aged 18-25, with either ZERO formal education, or perhaps one PhD in male bovine ordure and a second in the study of those whose birth lacks legal legitimacy.

  13. I've had my cell phone (my only phone) in a relative's maiden name forever. Nobody knows the trouble I've seen, nobody knows.... Since I've had government jobs, I figured it wouldn't hurt to be a bit anonymous. Now, if they get the warrant and connect the dots, there really is no mystery. Why they'd be looking at me would be the mystery. Makes about as much sense as an investigator accusing me of having used aliases because my sister used my computer and has a very different last name.

  14. "I did not see the clause where I agreed to give up any privacy when I opened a bank account or obtained a credit card. Can you post something, anything that shows such a thing, Carmine?"

    Comparing a mutual private business relationship between customer and company with a citizen's relationship with his/her government is like comparing a tot fight with the Battle of the Bulge.
    The two are so different in magnitude and scope that the analogy is ridiculous.

    Carmine D

  15. Carmine: May I provide a direct answer to Antigov's 11:42 comment which you quote?

    Antigov: Did you REALLY think that all the information you gave the bank after you walked into their office to open a new account was simply going to be TRASHED after the account was opened? Did anyone threaten you with JAIL if you refused to give personal information to a company in return for a credit account? For that matter, did anyone FORCE you to apply for that credit card in the first place?

    Go ahead, refuse to give Metro any personal information the next time you're pulled over. You'll be spread against your car so fast it'll make your head swim!

  16. Robert:

    Thank you. Very thorough.

    Add one more difference between my business relationship with companies and my government spying on me. If I can prove in a court of law that a company victimized me, I can sue the company criminally for monetary and punitive damages. Not so with my government. I can't sue under the doctrine of "sovereign immunity."

    Carmine D

  17. PS: The reason the government forces companies to provide data sweeps to it, and they comply, is because the government has granted immunity to these companies from lawsuits by the public.

    Carmine D

  18. "Wow I actually agree with Carmine DiFazio on this subject!" NativeNevadian

    And... you would be right.

    Carmine D