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Safety is important; so is liberty

A News.com reader writes that it's important to differentiate between a private company instituting safety policies and the government reading all of our correspondence.

 

  
Safety is important; so is liberty

In response to the Sept. 24 column by Mike Yamamoto, "Irrelevancy of the online privacy debate":

I agree that Americans have been spoiled by their unparalleled sense of security in the past 100 years or so, that companies providing services must tighten security, and that that tightening can include apparent intrusions into our privacy.

However, I believe that you failed to make a distinction between safety practices of service providers, like airlines and our loss of civil liberties to the government. When a company institutes a more restrictive or intrusive policy, customers can choose to go to a competitor, not use the service at all, or even go to the courts for a remedy.

The most effective way to change corporate policy is, of course, through market forces. (Don't like the airlines policies--don't fly commercial.) However, the U.S. government has a terrible history of incrementally taking citizens' rights and replacing them with safety or social programs. The framers of the Constitution understood that government by its nature will grow, amassing more power, more control over our lives, and an increasing percentage of GNP.

I think it's important to differentiate between a private company instituting safety policies and the government reading all of our correspondence, listening to phone conversations, bugging our homes, or any other extrapolation of e-mail tapping. For this reason, the framers of the Constitution included that any rights not expressly given to the government are reserved for the states or the people.

Safety is important, but so is liberty. I think we can have both.

George Harter
Raleigh, N.C.