As I have watched this tabloid phone-hacking scandal unfold, I have been reminded about how delicate our privacy is, and how vulnerable we are to government intrusion into our lives.
If it’s so easy for journalists and private detectives to hack into our emails and phones, just think how much the government, with its much greater resources, can pry into our lives.
If we find that Apple’s iPhones are tracking us, we can stop using their service. And if we find they have harmed us, we can sue them. But if we find that the government is tracking us, there’s not much we can do except protest — and even then, the government often uses our tax dollars to pay for propaganda saying ‘There’s nothing to worry about.’
It shows why it is so important that government be strictly limited in its power; and that the public have complete information about what bureaucrats and law enforcement agents are doing.
The more crimes there are on the books, the more excuses government officials have to sneak peeks at every detail of our private lives.
Violating other people’s privacy is addictive. It’s human nature. Once people gain the power to spy on other people’s lives, they want to do it more and more. They will constantly seek new ways to do it, and more excuses to justify doing it.
The government is always threatening to turn into Big Brother. That’s why it is so important for vigilant defenders of liberty to fight back: not only to rely on the courts for protection, but to make sure that we only elect politicians who will respect our right to privacy.
Unfortunately, President Obama does not respect our privacy. He has continued the warrantless wiretapping policy of the George W. Bush administration, and he has even expanded Bush’s “state secrets” doctrine, to make it harder for the accused and the public to keep an eye on what his administration is up to.
Republicans and Democrats in Congress recently joined hands to renew several unjust and unconstitutional provisions of the Patriot Act. I hope voters will punish them for doing that. In November 2012, I hope voters will recognize that Libertarian candidates consistently adhere to the Constitution and respect all of our rights.
Mark Hinkle is chairman of the Libertarian Party.
Phone-hacking scandal highlights intrusion