The folly of “I have nothing to hide” in a surveillance society

(Cross-post from my other blog, Outrun Change.)

That’s the idea some people are advancing to suggest the extensive data gathering conducted by the federal government is okay.

I plan to discuss this in detail. In the meantime, I want to start putting some pieces of information on the table.

Moxie Marlinspike has a superb article in Wired: Why “I Have Nothing to Hid” Is the Wrong Way to Think About Surveillance.

You may think you haven’t broken any laws.

But are you familiar with all 27,000 pages of the United States Code?

The article quotes James Duane, a professor at Regent Law School:

Estimates of the current size of the body of federal criminal law vary. It has been reported that the Congressional Research Service cannot even count the current number of federal crimes. These laws are scattered in over 50 titles of the United States Code, encompassing roughly 27,000 pages. Worse yet, the statutory code sections often incorporate, by reference, the provisions and sanctions of administrative regulations promulgated by various regulatory agencies under congressional authorization. Estimates of how many such regulations exist are even less well settled, but the ABA thinks there are ”nearly 10,000.”

Are you familiar with all 10,000 regulations that implement the 27,000 pages of the U.S.C.?

Check out this example: (more…)

It’s okay to kill California condors. As long as you are running a wind farm. Or building luxury homes. In the middle of condor habitat.

And as long as you didn’t really mean to off them.

(Cross-post from my other blog, Outrun Change.)

The Los Angeles Times reports Companies won’t face charges in condor deaths.

The federal Fish and Wildlife Service told the operators of Terra-Gen Power’s wind farm in the heart of condor habitat they

…will not be prosecuted if their turbines accidentally kill a condor during the expected 30-year life span of the project.

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Role of regulatory failure in the sinking of the Titanic

The sinking of the Titanic is usually blamed on that careless, horrible Captain Smith and the greedy capitalist shipowner who didn’t want the expense or inconvenience or clutter of enough lifeboats.  Rarely discussed is the role of the regulators in the tragedy.

Chris Berg points out in his Wall Street Journal article a year ago, The Real Reason for the Tragedy of the Titanic, that the regulators, the British Board of Trade, required all boats over 10,000 metric tons to have 16 lifeboats. It didn’t matter how many passengers were on board. Just put 16 lifeboats on.

Was the Titanic in compliance? Yes. (more…)

Crony capitalism kills off eagles and other raptors

When a government picks one industry over another and gives the favored one special treatment, it is called Crony Capitalism.

That is the same description used when a government goes after one industry for breaking the law and turns a blind eye to another industry doing the same thing.

That is exactly what federal policy the California AG are doing about migratory birds and protected raptors that are killed by the so-called ‘clean energy’ industry.

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Selective enforcement for harming eagles

One of the frightening dangers of crony capitalism is that a favored business or industry gets special treatment because they are favored.

The result can turn out to be that laws are enforced or not enforced based on whether the company has special contact with those who make decisions or is favored for other reasons.

So here’s the question:  Should the decision whether you get a pass or get hammered be based on whether you broke the rules or whether you do or don’t have special access?

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