According to Judge Richard-Posner of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, privacy is overvalued. He said this during a conference in Washington, D.C. about privacy and cybercrime.
“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.”
Judge Posner who has significant influence thus believes that the U.S. National Security Agency should have the unlimited ability to collect digital information in order to protect the country against terrorism and other threats.
Posner believes that while Congress should limit NSA’s use of the data it collections but it should not limit what information the Agency sweeps up and searches. He is perfectly fine with the NSA vacuuming trillions of bits of information through electronic networks worldwide.
As far as this particular judge is concerned there is no place for privacy interests when it comes to national security and that the NSA should have “carte blanche” when it comes to collecting information. He was also quite critical about mobile companies who have recently enabled end-to-end encryption in their software that would not allow the government to search and collect data.
At the same conference, Judge Margaret McKeown of the U.S. Court of Appeals or the Ninth Circuit disagreed with Judge Poster. She was of the opinion that it is important to have legal limits on government surveillance. Michael Dreeben, deputy solicitor general in the U.S. Department of Justice also supported this idea and stated that an expectation of privacy is a fundamental part of any democracy and while law enforcement surveillance techniques are useful, the courts should play a more active role in protecting personal privacy.
“A certain degree of privacy is perhaps a precondition for freedom, political freedom, artistic freedom, personal autonomy,” he said. “It’s kind of baked into the nature of the democratic system.”
According to David Cole, a professor at the Georgetown University Law Center, there should be a change in the law that provides less protection to emails that are six months old. He says that law enforcement agencies should not have access to stored email without a warrant as this is totally unfair to users who do not delete email messages.