Idea for an LPSF brochure on the surveillance society & threat of a police state

Yeah the Af. Am. His. is still around. I'm a life member and will be attending their next monthly meeting after a long hiatus.
The lib. board meeting are public and a good op. to voice because few attend. Will e-you the dates.

DuPree Consults"we get results"


I don't understand the problem you have with private businesses having
security cameras. Please explain.

--- In, "eric dupree" <dupreeconsults@...>

Yeah the Af. Am. His. is still around. I'm a life member and will be

attending their next monthly meeting after a long hiatus.

The lib. board meeting are public and a good op. to voice because few

attend. Will e-you the dates.


  I see several problems with the present use of security cameras by private companies.

  One is that the images from these cameras can easily be acquired by government in most cases, so it becomes little different than having more government cameras out there. How many business owners or managers, if approached by the police and asked to turn over video footage to help them apprehend a criminal or something, are going to say no or really ask the tough questions? How many will bother to inform the public, or the people whose data is being handed over, when such an incident occurs?

  Another problem is something I've been thinking more about lately, which is that the nature of "government" isn't so black and white as we libertarians traditionally tend to see it. While the free market does (eventually and not infallibly) tend to punish rights-violations and restrictions on freedom imposed by private companies in a way in which governments are not similarly accountable, in the meantime *the restrictions still exist.* Ultimately a limitation on freedom is a limitation on freedom, whether or not it amounts to a rights-violation under libertarian theory.

  I don't want a world where people are merely *technically* free according to a strict application of the non-aggression principle but in practice are highly constrained in their choices (e.g. you *can* travel to Hawaii in the nude, but since no airline would allow it, it would probably be a difficult and expensive proposition.) I want a world where people in fact have a wide range of choices and actions available to them so long as those choices and actions don't violate the rights of others. When I was on my Hawaiian cruise, I was thinking about how the cruise ship was like a little country, with the captain as dictator. Sure it's a benevolent dictatorship and as a private company they are generally more responsive to customer complaints and their rules are usually more sensible than would be true of, say, the FDA, but that doesn't change the fact that while I was on board my freedom was limited in many unnecessary ways. As William Safire said, having the right to do something (e.g. not letting your passengers use the swimming pools, basketball, volleyball or ping pong equipment at night at their own risk) does not necessarily make it the right thing to do. (I would have liked to sign a waiver assuming personal responsibility, but of course that wasn't an option.) I have a theorem that the more resources a company (or other NGO for that matter) has at its disposal and the more things it controls, the more it tends to take on many of the anti-freedom characteristics of governments. Conversely, a very small government with few resources may not be terribly dangerous in the short run, even if its power is virtually unlimited in theory.

  In short, I think society is better off without people routinely having tons of video images of them collected without their permission permission whether it's "the government" doing it or not. The potential for abuse, and the negative psychological effects of being under surveillance are still there. Not to mention the psychological effects on those conducting the surveillance. You've probably heard of the "Stanford Prison Guards" experiment where students in the study changed their behavior and began to act in an authoritarian manner as they were given guard power over others. I want companies to interact with me as a human being, not an ant under their microscopes.

  Yet a third problem is that the proliferation of businesses using cameras is that it gets people used to having their images recorded and stored on video without their consent. It sets a bad precedent, and makes it that much easier for government to get away with similar and worse privacy violations.

  If companies took more publicly verifiable precautions to keep the information they gathered from falling into the hands of government, and people had greater access to the information companies collected about them, it would be less of an issue. And of course in a free society where we didn't have to worry about what government might do with the data, it would be a lot less of an issue. It's mostly in the present dangerous climate that it's a major concern. I assume you would at least agree that use of RFID technology in products and as implantable chips in humans is a bad thing under the current state of affairs?

Love & liberty,
        <<< starchild >>>

Thanks for this, Starchild. Just two comments.

1. Our friends on the list here make a legitimate point about
surveillance by private businesses, but I think you also make some
worthwhile points in response, below. I think it might be possible to
strengthen your essay by including some of these very points: that,
although picture taking by a private establishment doesn't violate your
rights, there are other issues of concern as well. SF liberals might be
especially receptive to that message.

2. I don't find much concern about these issues among either my liberal
or conservative friends. When I forwarded a news item a couple of years
ago about new airport screening devices that revealed a rough nude
image, even women liberals on my list wrote back to say they weren't
concerned, if it promoted safety. The assumption that we have nothing
to fear if we have done nothing wrong is very strong, so I think it
would be important to address that issue as well. (Your favorite, Harry
Browne, did that in several of his pieces.)