The Government's Privacy Problem

Carol Platt Liebau

11/14/2013 7:34:00 AM - Carol Platt Liebau
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In an attempt to catch two men who were under investigation for allegedly teaching people how to pass lie detector tests, US agencies shared and collected personal information on almost five thousand people. Many of them were not federal government workers, and had only marginal contact with the two men -- like having only bought their book -- but information like their social security numbers, addresses and professions were shared among 30 government agencies, including the IRS and the CIA.

We all know there's an argument to be made for information sharing in the context of national security. Anyone who remembers the "walls" artificially erected by the Clinton administration -- and the ensuring 9/11 attacks -- understands why agencies have to be able to work together to find and stop terrorists.

But this is a far different issue. And the breadth and extent of the privacy violations are a sobering reminder that, unless we're vigilant, it's easy for a powerful Big Government to get "mission creep" and become Big Brother, with an outsized notion of its own prerogatives -- notions that end up making free citizens a little more like subjects.

Feel better yet about handing over all the personal information that ObamaCare enrollment requires?