Home > Past Releases and Reports > New "Privacy Coalition" Pledge Gets it Half-Right
For Immediate Release
February 12, 2001
Contact: Jim Harper
New "Privacy Coalition" Pledge Gets it Half-Right
Liberal Groups' Failure to Distinguish Between Government and
Private Sector Leaves Proposal Wanting
Washington, D.C. — A coalition of liberal advocacy groups gets privacy
half-right, says Web-based privacy thinktank Privacilla.org.
"This new 'Privacy Coalition' has not finished its intellectual spade-work,"
said Jim Harper, operator of Privacilla.org. "When they recognize the
difference between government and the private sector, they will begin to
advance the ball on privacy."
A collection of groups calling themselves the "Privacy Coalition" proposed
a "Privacy Pledge" today, calling on Members of Congress and state legislators
to support an intriguing, but ambiguous "privacy framework." The pledge calls
privacy a fundamental value and cites the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution.
"The Fourth Amendment makes privacy from government a fundamental right" said
Jim Harper, operator of Privacilla.org. "Privacy from government and privacy in
the private sector are very different things. Government is the
biggest threat to privacy. Congress and state legislators can do extraordinary
good by getting the government's privacy house in order."
The Privacilla.org Web site lists numerous threats to privacy from government
surveillance, government databases, and government regulations that prevent
citizens and consumers from maintaining their privacy.
"Some of the largest threats to privacy come from the tax system, many social
spending programs, and law enforcement," said Harper. "These costs to privacy
have not been well considered in the past."
The Privacy Coalition pledge fails to distinguish between government and the
private sector, however, appearing to invite Fourth Amendment-style limitations
on citizens and businesses. In the private sector, privacy is protected by
contract law, tort law, and educated consumerism.
"There is certainly plenty of rough-and-tumble in translating existing
privacy laws and practices to new technologies," said Harper, "but government
mandates on private-sector information practices would not improve things. They
would be especially ironic because governments themselves are the chief threat
Privacilla.org (http://www.privacilla.org) is a Web site that captures privacy
as a public policy issue from a free-market, pro-technology perspective. It has
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