Civil Liberties

Thomas C Greene posted this on The Register in late 2001. It's the best gainsaying I've seen of the moronic "What have you got to hide?" mantra. He's talking specifically about biometrics but it can be applied to any of the insidious ways in which our leaders are removing our freedoms.

We simply don't know what sort of government we'll have in 20 - 50 - 70 years' time. If today we should permit these tools to catalogue our faces because we trust the government we have at the moment, our descendants may well curse us if a Fascist regime ever comes to power.

It's a mistake to put the basic tools of mass oppression into the hands of any government simply because we have, at the moment, laws protecting us from its abuse.

Laws change; governments rise and fall. If we should hold fast now, a repressive future regime would have a hard time making a sudden power play for this sort of technology. However, if, thanks to our current state of doubt and insecurity, we allow it to become an everyday feature, we may not even notice its abuse until it's too late to stop without mass civil commotion.

We owe our children and grandchildren better. We owe them the right to be free men and women, to accept the risks of living in an essentially and eternally dangerous world, to come and go as they please without justifying themselves to underpaid nitwits and without submitting to a biometric scan to enter a restaurant, attend the cinema, watch a ball game, or meet friends at the airport.

We owe them their essential humanity.

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