AFFIRMATIVE PRIVACY GENERAL 8
PRIVACY IS ESSENTIAL TO AVOID TOTALITARIANISM
THE INFORMATION TRANSPARENT SOCIETY IS TOTALITARIAN
Jeffrey Rosen, associate professor at the George Washington University Law School, The New York Times April 30, 2000, SECTION: Section 6; Page 46; TITLE: The Eroded Self // acs-EE2001
In "The Unbearable Lightness of Being," Milan Kundera describes how the police destroyed an important figure of the Prague Spring by recording his conversations with a friend and then broadcasting them as a radio serial. Reflecting on his novel in an essay on privacy, Kundera writes, "Instantly Prochazka was discredited: because in private, a person says all sorts of things, slurs friends, uses coarse language, acts silly, tells dirty jokes, repeats himself, makes a companion laugh by shocking him with outrageous talk, floats heretical ideas he'd never admit in public and so forth." Freedom is impossible in a society that refuses to respect the fact that "we act different in private than in public," Kundera argues, a reality that he calls "the very ground of the life of the individual." By requiring citizens to live in glass houses without curtains, totalitarian societies deny their status as individuals, and "this transformation of a man from subject to object is experienced as shame."
LOSS OF PRIVACY IS OFTEN THOUGHT OF AS RAPE, AND LEADS TO A TOTALITARIAN SOCIETY
Charles J. Sykes, The San Francisco Chronicle, APRIL 30, 2000, SECTION: SUNDAY CHRONICLE; Pg. 1/Z1 TITLE: Invasion of the Privacy Snatchers // acs-EE2001
We have become a society with no place to hide.
Does that matter? Both intellectually and emotionally, we know it does. Not surprisingly, when someone's privacy has been violated, they often use the language of rape to describe their feelings of violation. Part of their life has been trespassed upon, stolen.
Consider what happens when privacy is utterly extinguished. George Orwell has helped us imagine a society where we are constantly at the mercy of snoops, either informers or surveillance devices that watch us, keep track of where we go, what we read, whom we see, what we believe, whom we love. Imagine that when you shopped, spies wrote down what you bought, how you paid for your purchases and even what you might have looked at. (Actually, this pretty much describes shopping today on the Internet.)
From there, it's not difficult to make the leap to picturing a society in which the police have the right to burst into any home, or any room, at any time; in other words, a society in which no place is off-limits, where there is no place we are safe, nowhere we can hide. Or a society that restricts personal choices, regulates whom you can marry, how you can raise your children or what you can read in the privacy of your own home. What we cannot imagine is such a society that is also free.