Friday, June 16, 2006

Privacy Bill of Rights
In a speech yesterday, Hillary Clinton proposed a "Privacy Bill of Rights." John Averosis has long pined for a nationally visible political candidate to make an issue of this, pointing out that it should be a winner for a Democrat.
For some reason, politicians from both parties seem to be loathe to enter the fray on the privacy issue. When in fact, privacy is a great issue to jump on. First off, it sounds good. Who isn't for privacy? Secondly, it's an issue that appeals to lots of folks on the left and the right (gun folks like privacy too). Third, it drives the religious right crazy - they think privacy leads to people having sex.

Many Libertarians are starting to get tired of their thirty year alliance with the Republican Party, and this is just the issue to peel a few of them away. Privacy is a big issue for me. It is one of the few issues that I would support a constitutional amendment over. It's also an issue that is not particularly aligned to the Right or the Left. In privacy, like free speech, both sides have areas where they want to see the principle rigorously applied and areas where they are willing to toss it away (I'm pretty hard core on both issues). It's an issue that's up for grabs.

Clinton's proposed bill only addresses commercial and financial privacy, but that's a step in the right direction. It's also encouraging that she devoted part of the speech unveiling the bill to criticizing the administration over warrantless and oversight-free wiretapping and data collection. These issues need to be tied together.

Based on the short summary of the bill that I've seen, my biggest objection at the moment is with the name: the Privacy Rights and Oversight for Electronic and Commercial Transactions Act of 2006 (PROTECT Act). I hate these cute acronym names for bills. I might support a constitutional amendment banning that as long as it included a ban on Republicans ever usingthe word "reform."

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