Imagine a state that compelled its citizens to inform it at all times of where they are, who they are with, what they are doing, who they are talking to, how they spend their time and money, and even what they are interested in. None of us would want to live there. Human-rights groups would condemn such a state for denying the most basic elements of human dignity and freedom. We’d pity its citizens for their inability to enjoy the rights and privileges we know are essential to a liberal democracy.

In fact, this is the state in which we now live—with one minor wrinkle: the US government does not compel us directly to share any of the above intimate information with it. Instead, it relies on private companies to collect such information—and then it takes it from them at will.

—David Cole

Cole, David. “Is Privacy Obsolete?” The Nation, 23 Mar. 2015. Web. 9 Apr. 2015.

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