About a week ago, the Electronic Frontier Foundation released "Who Has Your Back?" A traditionally libertarian and anti-regulation civil liberties organization, the EFF is now making ridiculous and ludicrous claims about social networking companies and search engines. Facebook and Google are supposedly fighting for your privacy rights in Congress, Twitter requires a warrant for access to the content you publicly post, and AT&T, who was granted immunity by a bipartisan Congress after the EFF successfully sued them for illegal collusion with the NSA, is now fighting for your privacy as well.
Claims that companies like Facebook and Google, which require you give them your real first and last name and (in certain cases) your phone number, are protecting your privacy, provide a glimpse of a key weapon in the war on privacy and property: desensitization.
We often see fictional “anti-”malware programs and “Nigerian spam” make these same requests of us. Yet legitimate companies are engaging in these same tactics – a different group of unknown people, doing the exact same thing, and “it’s all OK”.
The EFF’s report also commends cloud-based and other remote backup services, an ongoing threat to private property rights being forced upon the public. If a phishing message offered to take care of your banking, will, estate, and other personal data for you, would you fall for it?
Desensitization is a very useful weapon in Washington’s fight against personal and economic freedom. With desensitization, you can make sexual abuse and manufacturing pornography valid airport security procedures. You can make plastic into money. You can make private property the “intellectual property” of someone else. You can support the Second Amendment, but “assault” weapons don’t count.
Through repeated advertising by these privacy-invasive companies, America has become desensitized to loss of privacy rights. Many of these companies, such as Facebook, serve no useful purpose – a phone call, e-mail, or simply waiting until you see the person again can do the exact same thing, and without putting a carbon copy of your life into the hands of unknown people. (It’s true – think about it!) We need to start examining the violations of freedom we have allowed to be acceptable. If we do not, there will be no freedom at all, and there will be no need for a “Who Has Your Back?” report, because no one will care.