Privacy issues in American History

  • Privacy was once protected in America.
  • IDs were abhorrent.
  • Fingerprints and photographs were protected from government snoops.
  • Driver licenses were not required for anyone travelling in their automobiles.
  • Privacy was once a respected right in the United States.
Big Brother is Watching You
Big Brother is watching you
  • The U.S. Supreme Court in Marbury v. Madison determined that elected officers of government were not entitled to and would not be issued credentials to prove who they were. THEY COULD NOT BE ISSUED IDs.
  • US Supreme Court Aptheker v. Secretary of State, 378 U.S. 500 (1964): “Free movement by the citizen is of course as dangerous to a tyrant as free expression of ideas or the right of assembly and it is therefore controlled in most countries in the interests of security. … That is why the ticketing of people and the use of identification papers are routine matters under totalitarian regimes, yet abhorrent in the United States.”
  • Arguing against a practice of requiring driver licenses — Dissenting Opinion in Robertson v. Department of Public Works 180 Wash 133, 39 P2d 596 (1934):
    “Complete freedom of the highways is so old and well established a blessing that we have forgotten the days of the “Robber Barons” and toll roads, and yet, under an act like this, arbitrarily administered, the highways may be completely monopolized. If, through lack of interest, the people submit, then they may look to see the most sacred of their liberties taken from them one by one by more or less rapid encroachment.”
  • The federal court case In Re Pacific Railway Commission, 32 Fed. 241, 250: “of all the rights of the citizen, few are of greater importance or more essential to his peace and happiness than the right of personal security, and that involves, not merely protection of his person from assault, but exemption of his private affairs, books, and papers from inspection and scrutiny of others. Without the enjoyment of this right, all others would lose half their value.”
  •  We fought WW2 to defeat the Germans who would demand identification credentials of anyone outside their neighborhood. And now U.S. police can arrest anyone walking on a sidewalk without ID.
  • Even religious liberty — one of the most sacred liberties — is waived when you get a Social Security Number.  Amish will not normally get a SSN because insurance is proof that you don’t trust God.  The US Supreme Court tells us that an Amish man, by getting an SSN, waived his religious rights to an “overriding governmental interest” in the Supreme Court case U.S. v. Lee (455 U.S. 252): “The state may justify a limitation on religious liberty by showing that it is essential to accomplish an overriding governmental interest”
  • In the 1930’s the company that was to become IBM sold technology to Nazi Germany. They used it to create a database of Jews. WW2 defeated the tyrants who wanted to control everyone with anti-privacy data.  In 1948 the United Nations treaty entitled Universal Declaration of Human Rights mentions privacy:
    “Article 12. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.
    Article 18. Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.”
  • Since they own the car, their agents can go into your driveway and put a GPS tracking device on “your” car, without a warrant and without your knowledge. The Fourth Amendment privacy does not apply to “your” car in your driveway. (more)
  • Since they own “your” car, their police can arrest innocent people standing near it who do not have ID Hiibel v. Nevada.  This demand for ID would otherwise be abhorrent in the United States according to the Supreme Court’s Aptheker case.
  • US Supreme Court, Laird v. Tatum, 408 US 1, in 1972, page 28:
    “This case involves a cancer in our body politic. It is a measure of the disease which afflicts us. … Those who already walk submissively will say there is no cause for alarm. But submissiveness is not our heritage. The First Amendment was designed to allow rebellion to remain as our heritage. The Constitution was designed to keep the government off the backs of the people. … The Bill of Rights was designed to keep agents of government and official eavesdroppers away from assemblies of people. The aim was to allow men to be free and independent and to assert their rights against government. … When an intelligence officer looks over every nonconformist’s shoulder… the America once extolled as the voice of liberty heard around the world no longer is cast in the image which Jefferson and Madison designed, but more in the Russian image …”
  • PHOTO AND FINGERPRINTS.  Do you have equal protection of the law, equal to these?
    “Compulsory fingerprinting before conviction is an unlawful encroachment … [and] involves prohibited compulsory self-incrimination.” People v. Helvern, 215 N.Y. Supp. 417 (1926).
    “The taking of the plaintiff’s picture before conviction was an illegal act.” Hawkins v. Kuhne, 137 N.Y. Supp 1090, 153 App Div 216 (1912).
  • Olmstead v. United States, 277 U.S. 438, 469-471:
    “In a government of laws, the existence of the government will be imperiled if it fails to observe the law scrupulously. Our government is the potent, the omnipresent teacher. For good or for ill, it teaches the whole people by its example. Crime is contagious. If the government becomes a lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy.”
  • JAMES MADISON, speech in the Virginia Convention, June 6, 1788:
    “Since the general civilization of mankind, I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people, by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power, than by violent and sudden usurpations.”
  • The Privacy Act, when enforced, prohibited demand of a Social Security Number as a condition of employment by private businesses. Here is an excerpt from the Legislative History of The Privacy Act which shows the intent of Congress:
Legislative History of the Privacy Act, (Public Law 93-579), tells us the intent of Congress. It warns that private businesses cannot make as a condition of employment the securing of private data. The law itself does not mention private businesses. It says that it is illegal for a “government agency to deny to any individual any right, benefit, or privilege provided by law because of such individual’s refusal to disclose his social security number”– with two exceptions — disclosure required by Federal Statute or disclosure to an agency system of records that pre-existed the Privacy Act. The government agency cannot delegate to a private business the authority to obtain SSNs for the agency if that agency authority did not already exist.

Privacy does not seem important to people anymore.  They line up to surrender their privacy to social media and to government.
See my blog entry about Anti-Privacy Technology.


If you do not know how to enforce your Constitutional Rights in their courts, you will lose. I recommend an online self-help law course: How To Win In Court.