Sunday, July 28, 2013

What privacy?

Front page of the July 28, 2013, Providence Sunday Journal.  Art by The Journal's Tom Murphy.

 With an extensive print and online presentation, The Providence Journal today explores one of the pressing issues of our time: Privacy. We had scheduled this as part of our eWave series before Edward Snowden's revelations -- but those leaks, beginning June 5, give the issue more immediacy. At stake is an essential right Americans have held since the Founding Fathers, who wrote the Fourth Amendment:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

The threat is not only from our own government today, specifically the National Security Agency, which collects data on innocent Americans suspected of no wrongdoing. It is also from the private sector -- Google, Facebook and other entities that collect, share and store our most personal information. With our complicity.

Today's package features an essay that I wrote, plus tips on protecting privacy in the digital age, and a graphic describing the fine print of Google's privacy police (if you haven't read it, you may be surprised to learn what the internet giant takes from you). Also, a poll and great art. And a story about Timothy H. Edgar, a visiting fellow Brown University's Watson Institute who has the unique perspective of having been a lawyer with the ACLU, and a privacy expert inside the administrations of President Obama and former president George W. Bush.

As usual, the Journal's eWave team has done an incredible job from the cover art to page design to editorial support and online presence and poll. My thanks to them. This has been a collaborative effort all year in the eWave: The Digital Revolution series. And there's plenty more to come!

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