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Home > Past Releases and Reports > Privacilla Statement on Formation of the "In Defense of Freedom" Group

For Immediate Release
September 20, 2001

Contact: Jim Harper

(202) 546-3701

Privacilla Statement on Formation of the "In Defense of Freedom" Group

Statement Questions Ability of Domestic Surveillance to Combat International Terror

Washington, D.C. Jim Harper, Editor of Web-based privacy policy think-tank, issued the following statement today at the "In Defense of Freedom" press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. The statement is encoded with a separate message suggesting effective responses to terrorism. How to interpret that message can be found by clicking here.

How basic civil liberties fare in the coming days, weeks, and months will indicate the true strength of our nation.

Until inflamed so recently with the passion of responding to terrorism, America has stayed the path toward the unified goals of freedom and prosperity. Many groups unite today patriots bereaved by our nation's losses to urge that we continue on that path, while wiping terrorism from the face of the globe.

As we consider our response to these repugnant acts of terror, we must be aggressive yet smart. New encroachments on the civil liberties of Americans may not stop the small group of people worldwide who hate America. In America's response, we must aim directly at them, and we should not needlessly give up the freedoms we enjoy, like the Fourth Amendment protections that shelter privacy.

No person yet knows what allowed the horrific and tragic events of last week to happen. Those of our national leaders who seek to enact a laundry list of domestic electronic and financial surveillance programs in response may not serve our American values well.

Especially now, we must be rational. Letting surveillance of Americans grow may not deter terrorists. Let a brief amount of time and hard analysis go into our next steps.

In no way can it be said that legislation has been put forward in bad faith, but we should not grasp for answers when the grasping may permanently erode freedom without reducing terror.

Going down the path of increased surveillance seems particularly ineffectual given the direction of communications and technology. Everyone going online today can communicate with others undetected if they wish. New uses of communications technology profoundly beneficial uses will make surveillance even more futile in the future. Care taken now by the President, the Attorney General, and congressional leaders will ensure that we aim at international terrorists and that Americans do not needlessly abandon important protections for the privacy of their communications.

Every single message sent over the Internet or any other medium can encode information in a variety of ways, which tells us that domestic surveillance is unlikely to win the war on terrorism. ( is a Web site that captures privacy as a public policy issue from a free-market, pro-technology perspective. It has been described as a "privacy policy portal" and an "online think-tank."


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