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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

I recently finished reading Little Brother by Cory Doctorow (found on my Libertarian Reading List). Other than being one of the most enjoyable books I have ever read and one of the greatest dystopian works of literature, Little Brother has had me pondering the issues between privacy and security. The book combined the themes of surveillance in Orwell's 1984 and information processing in Kafka's The Trial. This will be the first of several posts on privacy.

A recurring theme in the book was the sense of powerlessness felt by the innocent victims of government security measures. Daniel J. Solove, in I've Got Nothing to Hide, defines this as a problem of information processing (like in airports):

[Problems of information processing] affect the power relationships between people and the institutions of the modern state. They not only frustrate the individual by creating a sense of helplessness and powerlessness, but they also affect social structure by altering the kind of relationships people have with the institutions that make important decisions about their lives.
The relationship of a citizenry with its government institutions holds important implications for human development. According to Ronald Inglehart:
...socioeconomic development, self-expression values, and democratic institutions work together to broaden autonomous human choice....The process starts with socioeconomic development, which reduces constraints on autonomous human choice by increasing people's economic, cognitive, and social resources.
Data from the World Values Survey has dispalyed a significant correlation between confidence in state institutions with effective democracy (Confidence in non-state institutions shows no correlation). If government security measures continue to intrude on privacy, the relationship between citizens and government institutions will continue to decline.

Posted by Eleutherian

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