Saturday, January 07, 2006

Oh. Sweet. Jesus. So I knew companies tracked all my purchases and sold them to one another. I knew non-profits, including privacy organizations, tracked my donations and sold my name and contact information to other non-profits. What I didn't know, and what scares the bejesus out of me, is that you, yes *you*, could buy a list of all my cell phone incoming and outgoing calls for around $110. And the best part? This is evidently LEGAL (even if the information is obtained through deception).

The article does a nice job detailing why this is terrible, in case that isn't immediately apparent. Journalists, law enforcement, anyone relying on confidential sources, well, they're not so confidential any more. Certainly we all thought we had a reasonable expectation of privacy when we made a phone call, but apparently lawmakers don't seem to care; and they should! Wait until one party uses this to blackmail members of the other. Ha! Then they'll care.

Can someone remind me what the Republican Party claims to stand for these days? There was a time when privacy was one of the most important values of the Republican Party. Then they realized privacy was the basis for the several Supreme Court decisions they disliked and turned against it. Of course, you could counter that the Republicans have traditionally focused of freedom from unwarranted governmental intrusion, but, ummm... warrantless wiretaps anyone? Access to personal library and medical records? Note that the Democrats haven't exactly made an issue of this either, but the brunt of the responsibility, to my mind, falls on those who have power. I'd go so far as to suggest the current Republican administration has created a culture that is antagonistic to privacy.

So here's a thought, contact your conressional representatives and tell them you're outraged that your personal cell phone records can be legally bought and sold and that you want want legislation outlawing this practice. Find your Senators and Representatives!

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