EPIC & Barr Trying to Bring Attention To Privacy

Since the beginning of his Presidential bid Rep. Bob Barr has been attempting to inject the issue of privacy into the 2008 election and policy debates. Sadly, even as Congress debated the largest overhaul of FISA and the surrounding policies since the 70s, little has come of the consistent attempts. The issue just has not caught on with the media, politicos, or even the public. Republicans who believe they already have the upper hand politically on the issue do not want to press their perceived advantage and Democrats do not want to appear weak on national security come November. With the Administration having “got” most of what it wanted legislatively regarding this issue we are most likely to be destined to a toxic stalemate over the coming months with little debate for change. In spite of lack of recent success Bob Barr is attempting to change the “toxic stalemate” to an actual debate that is heavy on logic/reason and low on fear.

From PC World -

The Democratic and Republican candidates for U.S. president aren’t giving enough emphasis to privacy and civil rights issues, the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) and Bob Barr, the Libertarian candidate for president, said Friday.

Privacy issues received no mention at the Democratic and Republican national conventions during the past two weeks, said Barr, a former Republican congressman from Georgia, speaking at an EPIC press conference. Debates about privacy and civil rights issues, including government surveillance of U.S. residents and routine searches of laptops at U.S. borders, were “nowhere to be seen” at the conventions, Barr said.

Barr spoke during the launch of a new EPIC campaign called Privacy ‘08. The goal is to make privacy issues a larger part of the campaign debate and to educate voters about privacy issues, said Marc Rotenberg, EPIC’s executive director. “We need to have this debate,” he said.

Barr called on the next president to rein in government surveillance of U.S. residents and called on Congress to update privacy laws by limiting what private businesses can do with personal data. Libertarians generally oppose new laws and new regulations, but Barr said limitations on the use of personal information are needed.

I welcome this attempt change the debate and wish Bob and EPIC (Electronic Privacy Information Center) the best, but I must say I don’t think we will turn the issue to our advantage until we can effectively harness the tactic of fear to our benefit. Today, too few Americans fear their government having excessive powers.  Just as the statists needed “a special event” to evoke emotion and fear, we need a turning point that privacy advocates can point to in order to effectively defend our position.

To learn more about EPIC’s Privacy ‘08 visit http://privacy08.org.


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