Richard Posner: Privacy is "Mainly" About Concealing Guilty Behavior


If you were ever wondering how federal judges feel about limiting the state's ability to surveil you for whatever reason they want as long as they sprinkle the fairy dust of national security in the air, wonder no more! The short answer? The state has every right to do pretty much whatever it wants!

Here's Judge Richard Posner, erstwhile pioneer of the law-and-economics movement and member of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, opining on the matter:

"Much of what passes for the name of privacy is really just trying to conceal the disreputable parts of your conduct," Posner added. "Privacy is mainly about trying to improve your social and business opportunities by concealing the sorts of bad activities that would cause other people not to want to deal with you."

Congress should limit the NSA's use of the data it collects—for example, not giving information about minor crimes to law enforcement agencies—but it shouldn't limit what information the NSA sweeps up and searches, Posner said. "If the NSA wants to vacuum all the trillions of bits of information that are crawling through the electronic worldwide networks, I think that's fine," he said.

In the name of national security, U.S. lawmakers should give the NSA "carte blanche," Posner added. "Privacy interests should really have very little weight when you're talking about national security," he said. "The world is in an extremely turbulent state—very dangerous."

Posner criticized mobile OS companies for enabling end-to-end encryption in their newest software. "I'm shocked at the thought that a company would be permitted to manufacture an electronic product that the government would not be able to search," he said.

Heritage Foundation

Say it ain't so, judge! Posner's comments, quoted by PC World, came at a conference privacy and cybercrime. There is something incredibly—even wilfully—naive in giving the NSA or any other agency "carte blanche" to collect data and then expect the powers that be to limit their use of it to legitimate purposes. Here's a banal example that is both shocking and indicative of how well that menality works: NSA "interceptors" routinely recorded and swapped phone sex exchanges between soldiers in Afghanistan and their loved ones back home.

It's not exactly clear, either, what sorts of procedural safeguards Posner thinks are legitimate these days. Does the government need to get individual warrants for specific data and information? Or is a blanket warrant good enough for government work?

Posner has long been one of the most influential jurists of the past 50 years. Read a 2001 Reason interview with him here and then scroll these pieces about him that chart his gravitation toward giving the government more and more power in the name of fighting terrorism and protecting the status quo (including secret trials, expanding copyright laws to protect newspapers' ROI, and worse).

Although appreciated by libertarians for bringing cost-benefit analyses and other economics-related tools to applications of the law, Posner doesn't believe in limitations on state power from a philosophical angle. If a policy is likely to produce what he figures is the maximization of social welfare, let 'er rip. In an age of terrorism where threat inflation is the coin of the realm, such a perspective ineluctably leads to characterizing privacy as more of a problem than an expectation.

NEXT: West Virginia Man Who Faced Life in Prison for Taking a Psychedelic With His Wife Got a Year Instead

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  1. Not a libertarian jurist. This is important to remember when reading his works and opinions.

    1. I'm only sorry that he'll likely be dead from old age, by the time they get the camps up and running.

      Nothing like a mortal epiphany for some small measure of justice.

    2. He's a lot more libertarian than most.

      1. Sometimes, except when he isn't. He's not really starting from the same place, from what I've seen. He's not philosophically opposed to big government, not in any larger since. I think he's primarily a utilitarian who sometimes thinks market forces should remain mostly unchecked.

        1. I think pretty much every ethicist is a utilitarian, although they don't acknowledge it. You want to make things better, but in some cases you construct an ethics around it to obscure the fact that your ethics were chosen to make things better.

          1. If your ethics weren't chosen to make things better you have crappy ethics.

      2. Posner is as libertarian as Bill Maher. His philosophy is a confused mess of legal positivism and epistemological subjectivism, a la Richard Rorty.

        1. If you want a better understanding of Posner's confused philosophy:


  2. Fine, mr. posner, is this your cell phone... may I? And is that your tablet? Thank you. Oh, I'll be taking your briefcase. If you could write down all the passwords on any accounts you have, banking, social networking email etc., that would be great. I'm sending a team over to your house right now to install a set of cameras in each room in the house. Any special access codes or keys they'll need to get access to all the relevant spaces?

    1. I would not be surprised if Anonymous takes care of all that without bothering the Judge.

    2. I have...impure...thoughts. If a device could be created that allowed the government to read your mind, all of it, what would be this judge's position on its use?

  3. "I'm shocked at the thought that a company would be permitted to manufacture an electronic product that the government would not be able to search," he said.

    Can a president remove a sitting judge?

    1. Judges can be impeached just like the president and vice president. It's incredibly rare though.

      1. But a federal judge needs to be impeached by Congress, no?

        1. It's incredibly rare though. Most of the judges convicted either used their position for personal gain or were intoxicated on the bench.

          1. It is incredibly rare, but most impeachments have been of judges. We don't bother impeaching anyone else, even though the Constitution provides for the impeachment of any federal official. Because everyone who has ever been in the federal government has been above reproach.

            1. As a rule, I think it is a stabilizing force that the American Congress doesn't conduct large-scale impeachments of their political enemies, especially the ones closest to executive power. Specifically, I can't think of many individuals I wouldn't like to see impeached, have their assets confiscated, and exiled.

              1. I don't want it being about politics, no, but in my opinion, the slightest breach of ethics, law, or even simple morality should get you the hammer.

                1. I'm pretty sure they call that little hammer a gavel.

                  1. No, think more ban hammer or ostracism.

              2. And every April 15th, they'll still need to file their taxes.

              3. As a rule, I think it is a stabilizing force that the American Congress doesn't conduct large-scale impeachments of their political enemies,

                Well, I guess a judge that thinks the Constitution (especially the part about warrants and sech) is toilet paper could be considered a political enemy.

                1. I meant more of what you see in other, less stable nations where the incoming regime prosecutes all the criminals in the outgoing regime and it can lead to revolution or factional violence. Just let them go, even if they loot the silver like the Rodhams did.

                  1. Lack of accountability has played no small role in getting us to where we are now. . .and where we're going.

                    I get that we shouldn't be executing people on the way out, but if we can't or won't toss people for violating the ethics of their office, well, in what way are we limiting government, then?

                  2. I meant more of what you see in other, less stable nations where the incoming regime prosecutes all the criminals in the outgoing regime and it can lead to revolution or factional violence.

                    I figured that's what you meant, but what seems obvious in 'less stable nations' is not so obvious when you're in the center of it.

                    I think you could impeach almost any federal official or sitting politician and no matter the charge, supporters would see it as politically motivated.

                    1. Sure. Agreed. When I am God-Emperor, I'll fire them in factional pairs. There is always someone of each faction, including mine, who we could replace with someone less corrupt/better at their job.

              4. WTF? Stabilizing force for confiscating wealth, accumulating unpaid debt, and declaring sweepeing but minimally, if at all, justified military action?

                Maybe if a few more enemies of the state got impeached and exiled, we wouldn't have the concentration of rich degenerates we currently have.

              5. Thank goodness our corruption is stabilized.

        2. Yes, and congress is chock full of libertarinish congresscritters just dying to impeach this guy.

    2. No. The only way to force them out is for Congress to impeach them.

    3. Which president did you have in mind?

      I'm guessing the present President agrees with the judge on this point.

  4. I'm sure the judge won't mind publishing his SSN, bank account number, ATM PIN, credit card number, address, home phone, email address, all his passwords...I mean, privacy is only for hiding the skeletons in your closet, right?

    Fuck him.

    1. And it's not like you need privacy in the voting booth. So might as well making voting records public.

      1. Damn the Australian ballot!

        1. Crikey, lots of countries have ballots made out of wool! Don't be hatin', mate, have some beer instead!

  5. Some people also prefer anonymity in their charitable work for religious reasons.

  6. In the name of national security, U.S. lawmakers should give the NSA "carte blanche," Posner added. "Privacy interests should really have very little weight when you're talking about national security," he said. "The world is in an extremely turbulent state?very dangerous."

    Mr. Posn... can I call you Dick? It is Dick, isn't it? Look, Dick, it's like this. There's this thing we have, it's called the Constitution... some people might lump it into the "Forgotten Constitutions" which clearly, you have.

    The American people-- and I think I speak for all of them--- the American people would appreciate it if you'd chuck your filthy muck into the street.

  7. The world is in an extremely turbulent state?very dangerous.

    Forget about threat inflation for just a minute. This asshole will make a statement like this, but he is especially insulated from both terrorism and crime, as well as government invasions of his privacy because of his special status. Walk a mile in someone else's shoes. Dick.

  8. Translation: My papers are in order, why aren't yours?

    1. Posner shits with the door open?

      1. Doesn't everyone? Especially at work.

        1. Getting paid to poop. Is there anything better?

  9. So he's a utilitarian, and therefore utterly lacking in morality. What a surprise.

    1. Look, his intentions have the highest morals. It's not his fault that you resisted the police, who were enforcing them.

  10. What a douche.

  11. Would Posner change his mind once he's reminded that federal judges can be held to account for their private behavior, just like plebes? Then maybe Posner will begin to appreciate the value of privacy protections!


  12. "Much of what passes for the name of privacynational security is really just trying to conceal the disreputable parts of yourthe Government's conduct,"

    When applied to .gov, and he may be on to something.

  13. So, Posner, a heretofore seemingly sane jurist, basically says there is no right to privacy, meanwhile Jezebel issued an honest to goodness apology Re: U.Va case?? Truly these are strange days indeed...

    1. I'm waiting for Jezebel to un-apologize, like Gawker did a couple of months ago (was it something to do with GamerGate? I try to forget)

      Also, is that you Dave?

    2. Maybe sane compared to the vast majority of the judiciary but I never got the love that was showered on him in the past. This latest comment is unsurprising.

  14. What an execrable fuck Mr. Posner is. I hope he pukes in his sleep and chokes to death on his own vomit. Srsly.

    1. Do you play GTA? I'm testing a hypothesis I have about video games.

      1. No. My son does, if that helps...

        /knows it prolly doesn't

        1. Hmmm...well, I'll continue my research.

          (I'm alluding to my comments about how entertainment which glorifies murder and the like can make people desensitized to illegal violence)

          1. I grew up playing WWII and cowboys and indians....maybe that was it?

            1. By this point, I'm just yanking your chain.

              Or as the commander at Andersonville said, chaining your Yank.

              1. Too soon?

          2. Mostly I just channel Sam Kinison.

            A LOT.

          3. Desensitized to actual violence, or more prone to suggesting violence?

          4. But if he choked on his own vomit how is any illegal violence involved? Now if he choked on a spinal tap drummer's vomit..,

      2. So I'm clear - I play NO video games. My idea of a "video" game is one of those old packs of "old timer" games that has the two best games EVAR, "Galaga" and "Pole Position".

        I could (and did, and do - when I can find them) play those games for HOURS!

        These newfangled video games? Don't get 'em, don't know how they work.

        GET OFF MY LAWN!!

  15. After making his statement, Judge Posner went home to be double-teamed by Lindsey Graham and John McCain. It was a special night for all three.

  16. So he thinks '1984' is a how to book?

    1. 6079 Posner R.! Yes, YOU! Bend lower, ... Lower, please! THAT'S better, comrade.

      1. Posner thinks he'll be the one giving the orders over the telescreen.

        1. They all do, don't they?

        2. All of them think they'll be the ones giving orders over the telescreen.

          1. Curses for not refreshing.

  17. I sense a hidden meaning from an acronym made up of the first 3 letters of his last name, that describes him perfectly.

  18. Do you know who else argued that collective good goes before individual good?

    1. Somebody up to no good?

    2. Col Nicholson in "Bridge on the River Kwai"?

    3. Mr Spock

      1. Or Kirk, depending on which is the correct time line.

        1. You know, I wonder if the Mirror universe was created by McCoy saving Edith Keeler?

          1. The new Trek 2016 movie had better have some mirror universe shit going on, or it's gonna suck as bad as NewTrek:TWOK2.0 did last year.

            1. They should drop the reboot and do something else.

              1. I wish they would, but they won't.

                That being said, rebooting The Wrath of Khan was a flipping disaster, and something that even the most ardent fanboys rolled their eyes at.

                Mirror original universe Kirk (played by a goateed Shat)and mirror new universe Kirk (played by a goateed Pine) teaming up and using TNG-movies era technology built into TOS era ships to cause general mayhem would be a pretty awesome plot line if done right.

                1. I say them dump everything and do a show based on the adventures of Harry Mudd.

                  1. I thought they did that one already... Firefly?

                    1. What would be good about a Harry Mudd series is that it would change settings, from scam to scam, including some stints in Federation and other jails.

    4. Dr. Sheldon Cooper?

    5. Spock?

      1. Too slow, hmm?


    6. Consequentialist libertarians?

    7. Spraky Anderson?

  19. Does this mark the moment Reason stops felating this guy?

    1. When has Reason ever sucked up to Posner? The guy is as lion towing Progressive as anybody gets.

  20. Posner's an astute observer of human behavior, and his gen'l statement here is right: that most of what people want to conceal is stuff they're ashamed of. It may not be illegal, but shameful to them in some way, and of course that's their own value judgment.

    I can think of a few things that aren't part of that most: trade secrets, negotiation details, security matters. Anybody got others? But would you agree that, figuring total items for all people worldwide, all together they constitute the minority of things to conceal as against the "ashamed of" majority? Let's leave out stuff that you gotta conceal because other people make you, as in via the chador.

    1. It took me two seconds to think, "huh, embarrassing doesn't all necessarily equal bad." How come he can't think of that before writing anything down, let alone publishing it?

      1. How come he can't think of that before writing anything down, let alone publishing it?

        You say that as if his comments are a non-biased observation of human behavior. They are not. He is simply promoting an agenda, ignoring any evidence to the contrary. Richard Posner is from the Woodrow Wilson mold. He's very smart, but undeniably evil.

      2. Embarrassing is bad for the person is embarrassed. And they're embarrassed because they're embarrassed. It's just what you feel.

    2. The important thing is, it doesn't matter WHY. Maybe I'm still working out how I want to feel about something and don't want the whole process displayed publicly while I do so. The government and its agents do get to set which criteria are valid.

      1. Agreed. I just think he's wrong even accepting his assumptions.

    3. Fuck POSner!

      Why I want keep private things private is none of his fucking business. Until Law Enforcement/Government has probable cause based on something I've done, to search through my private stuff, he can suck a whole bag of syphilitic penii.

      And take a flying fuck at a rolling doughnut, as well.

    4. Whether or not he's correct about the reasons people want things to remain private is an interesting question but an ultimately irrelevant one. Even if he's correct, it's the logical leap he takes to saying that that makes it okay to spy on everyone's habits all the time that's disconcerting.

    5. Anybody got others?

      Depends on how you count them.

      And are we talking about "privacy from a government agency"?

      There are lots of others. I don't want people to know the contents of my house. Certain items may attract burglars. I don't want "the world" to know what my hours are, when I'm home.

      I don't want people to know I have a 12 yr old girl that is alone in the house on occasion.

      I could go on.

      Sure, in the TOTAL mix of things there are specific things that I may be embarrassed about/ashamed of. But depending on how you spin "privacy" the sheer number of individual items that I'd really, really like to keep private probably eclipses the things I'm embarrassed about.

      1. I think I covered all of your other examples under "security matters".

    6. Homosexuality when most people view homosexuality as a sin.

      Opposition to Barack Obama when the politically connected act as if opposition to him as a racist sin.

      Being a Mormon in an age of pogroms.

      Being a supporter of plate tectonics when plate tectonics are not in vogue.

      Being an atheist - practically anywhere?

      Being a Hutterite in Canada?

      A Jew who likes Bacon?

      A man who likes his lover to penetrate him anally with a strap-on dildo pretty much anywhere?

      Being an anarchist - again pretty much anywhere?

      Being anti-fascist America (eg the so called premature anti-fascists who fought in the Abraham Lincoln brigade) in 1938?

      Doubting the trinity or the divinity of Christ in 1800's Massachusetts?

      Does Posner not understand that the things he is appalled about are the direct product of the religious strife that wracked England and her colonies in the centuries following the reformation?

      1. Tarran,

        I think Posner would retort that the things you list aren't things the NSA cares about, because Top Men.

        1. 300 years ago, doubting the Trinity in Virginia could send you to the gallows.

          And Posner's thesis if fucking retarded because it pretends such things can't happen again.

          1. Living document, Tarran, LIVING DOCUMENT! Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

      2. Your list boils down to embarrassment, security matters, and combinations of those 2 factors.

    7. I'm not ashamed of the 101 banal things I do at home every night. That doesn't mean I want a bunch of people tracking everything I do.

      1. I'm not ashamed of the 101 banal things I do at home every night.

        You had a typo; I fixed it for you.

      2. Twitter & Facebook stay in biz based on people's not being like you. That's the funny thing I never figured out: why so many people should be inferred as caring about your "status" or what you're doing this minute.

    8. What the hell are you talking about Robert? All he said is that if you haven't done anything wrong you don't have anything to worry about. According to him if you don't want him watching you fucking your wife then you are guilty of something. According to him if you exercise your right to be silent then it is evidence of guilt.

      Most people don't want the details of their sex life, their medical records, their financial information, etc available for review by anyone much less agents of the state.

      If I keep my favorite fishing hole or hunting spot a secret, what is it you think I am ashamed of? Guilty of?

      He is correct in the same way that astrologers are correct.

      1. No, what he said in his general statement (which is all I was commenting on) is that most of the things that people worry about others knowing are things that would embarrass the people that they're about. And I think he's right. The # of those things exceeds the number of things people want to keep secret for fear of their bank acc'ts being cleaned out, etc.

      2. Favorite fishing hole or hunting spot would be in the nature of trade secret, which I covered above. It's not literally about trade, but it's pleasure business.

    9. I'm entirely certain people have committed significant felonies without even realizing it and have a huge digital trail that could potentially back it up.

      Some of us (you know, the people who aren't fucking morons like Posner) recognize this fact and take privacy very seriously.

      So yeah, he is likely correct, but he's too motherfucking stupid to realize what an indictment of the "justice system" he has spent his life working in it truly is. Fuck him.

    10. I don't think his general statement is right. Those of us who have been on this earth a while know that those who snoop on our personal activities inevitably feel "empowered" to meddle in them sooner or later regardless of how innocuous they are.

  21. The media keeps not being able to figure out whether to love or hate Posner.

    He was TEH AWESOMES for being very pro gay marriage...

    but then, becomes a frothing monster for daring to claim that the Second Amendment is about 'self-defense'

    "More and more, the right wing of the federal judiciary is behaving like the nasty old uncle at the family dinner table, grumbling about how stupid young people are today. Why do they need medical care, or contraception, or protections from sexual violence, or anti-smoking efforts, or gun control? We didn't have any of that stuff when I was a kid, and look how great I turned out!"

    The 'nasty old uncle' is apparently also a liberal darling on the subject of Voter ID, which he now opposes.

    1. The 'nasty old uncle' is apparently also a liberal darling on the subject of Voter ID, which he now opposes.

      To be fair, if he believes you're entitled to no form of privacy, then the polling place would have a dossier on you when you showed up.

      Polling attended: *Gilmore walks in the door* Ahh, Mr. Gilmore of 2753 Maple Lane, #2, how are you today, and how's Mrs. Gilmore? Gilmore Jr seems to be doing well with his violin lessons. And that erectile dysfunction you're suffering? It's said that one in five men suffer from some performance related issue in the bedroom, so nothing that can't be fixed.

      1. "You realize, of course, that voting for a libertarian is a completely wasted vote, hmmm. We've taken the liberty of filling out your voting card for you , so that you can feel part of the winning team.

        Now go home and make fun of Kennedy's inappropriate clothing this evening."

  22. According to the judge privacy would make everybody guilty untill proven innocent for lack of transparency so that would mean the Obama administration are a bunch of thieving lying bastards.

  23. Posner is starting from the wrong end on privacy.

    The question isn't "What have you got to hide, and why?"

    The question should be "What does the government want to look at, and why?"

    He presumes that the default should be "government gets access to everything, with perhaps a few exceptions." That's why he is appalled that anyone is "allowed" to make a phone without government backdoors or easy access. To me, that's exactly backwards.

    1. Exactly. The government and its agents aren't the boss, they are deriving power. Therefore, FYTW is as good a reason as any for individuals to deny agents of the government access on a whim until such time as those agents can present a clear and reasoned case why such access may provide evidence of a specific and named crime.

    2. The question should be "What does the government want to look at, and why?"

      Well the problem with Posner is he's essentially already answered it.

      I think it's clear that we don't accept his argument, but he's made that argument.

      1. Well the problem with Posner is he's essentially already answered it.

        Sorry, but "everything, because you never know" is not responsive.

        1. Posner is essentially saying that terrorists are hiding behind every blade of grass: "Privacy interests should really have very little weight when you're talking about national security," he said. "The world is in an extremely turbulent state?very dangerous."

          Again, it's not an answer that I (or you) accept, but in his mind, and in the minds of people sympathetic to Posner's view, catching terrorists trumps your privacy concerns.

        2. in the minds of people sympathetic to Posner's view, catching terrorists trumps your privacy concerns.

          Oh, I know. Those people aren't interested in living in a free society, and I don't much to say to them as a general rule.

          The astonishing thing is that Posner knows for a fact that NSA data mining is being used, not for terrorism, but for criminal investigations. And he still says this.

          Even if you grant the premise that there should be a terrorism exception to the BOR, we already know for a fact that the exception will consume the rule.

    3. He presumes that the default should be "government gets access to everything, with perhaps a few exceptions." That's why he is appalled that anyone is "allowed" to make a phone without government backdoors or easy access. To me, that's exactly backwards.

      I know all this newfangled technology gives fogies like Posner the vapors or whatever, but I still find this mindset baffling. Is he appalled by the fact that safe makers aren't required to mail the combination on every safe they manufacture to the NSA?

      1. I think his response would be that a safe is eminently more crackable than end-to-end encryption, and technically he's right (depending on the encryption, of course).

        1. IDK, a rubber hose would be my first option to crack either one.

  24. Before perusing the comments, I am wondering if this cuts both ways in Posner's mind. Does the government claim the right to keep any of its workings from public scrutiny?

    I know. In his mind we all belong to the government. It is a parent/child relationship of sorts so different standards.

    I just don't have a 'fuck you' big enough for this piece of cheese, so go stretch a rope, Judge.

    1. Maybe we should ask him to publish his written correspondence with his clerks.

      And also what he thinks of Attorney-Client Privilege.

      1. ^This^

        I certainly agree with Posner on a personal level. I have no information to hide.

        Posner's problem is that he's been judging people guilty all of his life. The rest of us have been accumulating information that may not implicate us in any way but, since we are not judges or lawyers, we know we have a 5th Amendment right not to testify and no right to disclose the information.

        1. I think that the article that JEP posted in the PM Links the other day (I won't be able to track the link down) is applicable here. There are plenty of thoughts, positions, and actions that are considered heretical (or the modern-day equivalent) that are in no way morally dubious or shameful, but have the ability to jeopardize one's social standing.

          I work in patents. If I were to make public my questioning as to whether the patent system need exist, they would find a way to fire my ass within a week. I'm not ashamed of my doubts regarding the system, but I'm smart enough to shut the hell up about them around people who could find my boss and tell him about it.

          1. Interesting, considering that priests don't get fired for being atheists.

  25. "Privacy interests should really have very little weight when you're talking about national security," he said.

    Dangerous motherfucker.

    1. For example, in a certain country where Jews were held to be a danger to national security, it was quite right for the census records to be data-mined to identify jews, and the laws compelling people to state their religion on the state forms was quite correct, since even if people are ashamed of their religion, why should they be permitted to keep it secret?

      1. Or in another certain surveillance state/s where many activities that were not illegal (infidelity/homosexuality etc) were used by those states for blackmailing political enemies and dissidents.

        Sure it is perfectly ok to create a paranoid society where neighbors, coworkers, friends, and children inform on each other. We can all sleep soundly when national security is our primary responsibility.

        1. If nothing were secret, there'd be nothing to inform on.

          I've often thought that if only everyone were psychic, able to tell what everyone was doing or thinking at any time, the world would be extremely free & peaceful. Maybe it wouldn't be so for the 1st 10 secs. in which that condition existed, but after that everybody would realize that the best thing was to leave everyone else alone. Victimless crime laws would disappear instantly if the evidence of all such crimes became instantly apparent to all.

          1. You think that because you are an idiot Robert.

    2. While he may think "national" security refers to the security of society as a whole, this is frightfully na?ve.

      The security being defended by national security apparats quickly becomes the government's security (if it wasn't from the get-go).

  26. I generally hold Judge Posner in high regard, having worked with him, as well as having read many of his books and opinions. But on this NSA-surveillance vs. privacy issue, he is flat wrong. I hold many beliefs that might be considered unpopular among government bureaucrats, especially in the hyper-PC society we witness today. I would not want the NSA snooping through my private chats, or txts. The 4th Amendment guarantees each of us a right to privacy in our "papers and effects". Surely our electronic communications and electronic data are just as worthy of protection as the letters and books of old. As long as no one ever commits (or attempts to commit) a violent crime, there is zero reason for the government/NSA to be snooping into our private data.

  27. I would suggest, if he is so unconcerned,that Judge Posner (and the rest of the members of the 7th Circuit and the other Chicago and Illinois politicians - including the present occupant of the White House) all volunteer to have themselves and their families totally observed, recorded, tracked and scrutinized to the full technological capabilities of the government. What is deemed good for the goose should be imposed first on the gander.

    1. I'm sure that it is. Ask Feinstein.

  28. One aspect that is commonly overlooked is the massive cost of these massive data collection and storage technologies . While only in the billions and 10s of billions , after a while it adds up .

    More than anything else , these indiscriminate collection of haystacks is a bureaucratic gravy train .

  29. "influential" does not in any way mean "good". I believe a good case could be made that Hitler and Stalin were "influential".

  30. Good grief. He's a first degree turd bucket. Thanks for the heads up Reason. You've probably saved me 30-40 hours over the rest of my lifetime giving a rat's ass about anything this clown says.

  31. Fundamentally agree. But definitions first. There are three issues, often conflated: Privacy, Security and Secrecy. Who can view your financial transactions is a security issue. Who you voted for is a privacy issue.

    State propaganda would lump these separate issues together and convince us that privacy is security when in fact, Privacy is an illusion perpetrated by those who require secrecy. The word privacy is being constantly flashed at us daily even more times that the word terror.

    I personally don't believe in privacy. I am a security freak with no need for secrecy. I am free.

    The real message here is that we have permitted laws to be created which don't allow us to live authentic lives. This is the privacy that Posner leans on and he is right.

    1. Posner plays a shitty game which I'm sure he is most certainly is aware of. He talks down to us as children, attempting to connect us with feelings of guilt. We are all guilty of something, right? So maybe we won't rock the boat and the fascists can continue to operate in secret.

  32. Who the fuck signs this guy's checks, anyway?

    1. I'd be interested in knowing how this dipshidiot got into.....much less successfully completed.....law school.

  33. Why Privacy Matters, Glen Greenwald. http://www.ted.com/talks/glenn.....cy_matters

  34. Dear Judge Posner,

    Since, in your opinion, only those seeking to hide criminal and/or immoral behavior support the public's right to privacy and seek to limit the state's ability to spy on the public, how about you posting all of your personal information including, but not limited to, your SS#, driver's license #, bank & investment account #'s, your DOB, address, along with the names, addresses, phone #'s, etc. of family and friends, and other personally identifying information? After all, by your own logic, you of all people should have nothing to hide.....right?

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