The ACLU recently published an interactive map
on the web
that categorizes states based on the strength of privacy laws enacted.
This was based on four categories of
privacy laws which included law enforcement access to electronic
communications, location tracking, automatic license plate readers, and
domestic surveillance drones.
It was noted that just because there is a state law
regarding privacy protections in one or more of the listed areas, it does not
automatically translate in to stronger privacy rights. For example, Texas has drone laws, but
these laws are insufficient and may even be harmful to individuals.
According to the ACLU’s map, Utah was the winner as the
state with the greatest privacy protection. It is ironic that Utah is one of the most conservative
It is often thought that, from a libertarian standpoint,
Republicans are stronger on economic issues and Democrats are stronger on
issues of civil liberties. So it
is interesting to note that heavily Democratic states such as California and
New York did not rank well for privacy protections. But it is also fair to note that there are some Republican/
conservative states that did not rank well either.
Our Only Hope
In a country of over 300 million people, it is almost
impossible to significantly change anything in Washington DC. It is even hard when there are millions
of people trying to change the same thing.
Washington DC is run by lobbyists and corporate
interests. It is also run by
bureaucracies. It is quite
difficult to change this. I have
pointed out in the past that is almost impossible to get rid of the National
Security Agency (NSA), barring some kind of major federal bankruptcy. Even then, I’m not so sure.
But there is a little bit more hope in seeing that many
states are passing laws to provide greater privacy protections from
government. This must
continue. I always say that if you
can’t change a local or state law, then there is no way you are going to make
it happen on the national stage, assuming it is a change that would somehow
reduce government power.
One thing we will eventually need to see are state laws with
some teeth against the federal government. We can’t put the cart before the horse though. We must see strong state laws against
government spying that are first enforced at the state and local levels. When this becomes more widespread, then
we may begin to see some stronger stands against Washington DC.
One possibility is that states begin to invoke the idea of
nullification. State laws should
be passed that essentially nullify federal laws (or actions) because they are
unconstitutional and a clear violation of liberty. Federal spying with no warrants is not authorized by the
The big question comes if the states actually try to enforce
this. What are the states going to
do to stop a federal government that is constantly spying?
It is probably not a coincidence that Utah was ranked as
having the best privacy protection laws when the NSA has a huge data center in
the state. This is where your
emails and other electronic communications are being stored.
There are already movements that are attempting to get Utah
legislators to shut off the water supply going to the data center, as it
supposedly uses over one million gallons of water every day. While I think this movement is probably
premature, it is an interesting idea.
But for the Utah legislature to take a stand this big against the
powerful U.S. government, it is going to take some major support from the
As technology continues to advance, the NSA is only going to
get worse. We will live in a world
of virtually no privacy. The good
news is that free individuals and groups of individuals will also use new
technologies in ways to fight back and make the NSA’s job more difficult.
There are going to be different methods of fighting the
But before we can have major
success, we have to win battles at state and local levels.
It is good to see that we are at least
making a little progress.