Sunday, February 22, 2004


I was amused by the opening to this Miss Manners column:
Defending privacy has become a lonely task, Miss Manners finds. In a society where shame is marketable and public interest in one's underwear is the sign of professional success, there is not a lot of support for the concept.

True, one hears righteous outcries from people whose private lives have been violated. A government agency may be asking for personal information that people customarily only reveal on their Web sites, in blogs and by filling out the warranty cards for everything they buy.
This puts me in mind of a well-liked blog posting from last year. I think I'll repeat it here:
Amidst all the civil libertarian furor over the Patriot Act I, no one has yet commented on the "citizen reporting" provision. By this provision, every adult in America, even those not suspected of any crime whatsoever, will be required to file a yearly report on themselves, and send it to a new government office that is charged with tracking every person's whereabouts, living circumstances, etc. The yearly report required from each adult must contain:
  • Name
  • current address
  • name of spouse (if any)
  • names of children (if any)
  • Social Security numbers for all the above
  • title of job
  • address of employer
  • amount of income
  • any significant expenditures during the year
  • information about bank accounts or any investments
  • information about loans, mortgages, and other obligations
  • information about what charities the adult supports with his or her money
  • information about medical bills
  • Potentially much more.
As should be obvious, these reporting requirements are onerous, intrusive, and only serve to allow a massive federal bureaucracy to monitor Americans' lives. I'm surprised that there hasn't been more publicity and protest over these proposed violations of the constitutional right to privacy that we all should enjoy.

By the way, I'm just kidding about the Patriot Act. What I described is actually the current requirement re: reporting to the IRS every April 15. I just feel like venting on that subject this time of year.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home