Posted on May 21, 2014 by Rick Falkvinge

The Rights And Liberties Of Our Parents

Our parents had certain rights and liberties that they took for granted, inherited from our grandparents. They have not been passed on to our children. That is an enormous failure of our generation.

Our parents were able to write a private letter. They took that privacy for absolutely granted. Arguably, the paper letter took some time to deliver, but nobody would read it in transit, nor would the letter as such be logged in databases to be used against the people communicating at a later date. The mailman would never be held responsible for the contents of the letter by corporate interests who didn’t like what was being communicated.

Our parents could place a private phonecall, without being wiretapped and eavesdropped on. Their phonecalls were not logged to be used against them at a later date. They took this right and liberty for absolutely granted.

Our parents could communicate freely in private, without corporate and governmental interests stepping in mid-sentence and interrupting with “You have mentioned a forbidden topic. Please refrain from discussing forbidden topics.” (This would happen for some time if links to The Pirate Bay were posted on Facebook, for example.)

They were able to go to the library – on their own feet, admittedly – and search for information. They would have absolute privacy doing so, and took that privacy for granted. Nobody was logging what information they had been searching for to use it against them, nobody was looking at the information they receieved in response to their questions, nor at how our parents browsed, learned, and used that information. Fact is, no agency was logging that our parents had been to the library in the first place.

When our parents mistyped something and corrected themselves, or maybe even changed their mind mid-sentence and decided to not say something, nobody was taking careful notice of what they thought of first but never expressed.

When our parents were reading a newspaper, there was nobody looking over their shoulder to see exactly what newspaper they were reading, what articles they read in that paper, in what order, and for how long. Nor did any agency log what friends our parents contacted after having read a particular article. This was privacy that was taken absolutely and fundamentally for granted in our parents’ generation.

Our parents could walk about the city freely, without having practically every footstep logged by the government. Law enforcement was never able to check exactly where a certain individual had been several years in the past, and whom that person had been speaking to most recently. This was privacy that our parents took for granted.

When our parents were thinking about whom to date, as they were looking over photos and phone numbers, there was nobody logging their partner preferences to be used against them later. When our parents were visiting a travel agency, nobody took careful notes of trips that were never even booked.

When our parents deposited money their own money into a bank, they did not need to show ID first. This was an obvious right – to deposit your money into the bank, into your own account, no questions asked.

When our parents wanted to travel within the country, they did not need to show any other papers than the ticket. This was a right that was taken completely for granted, especially after WW2. Nobody kept careful log of every trip they made, to be used against them later.

When our parents bought a packet of gum, a sandwich, or a pack of beer, that was never logged in giant databases that could be used against them later.

Our children have lost of all these rights and liberties. Every single one. All these rights, which our parents took for granted, are liberties that we have failed to pass on to our children. I firmly believe that this is the worst conceivable failure of our generation, and I think the future will judge us harshly for it.

Privacy remains your own responsibility. So does the privacy of your children.

About Rick Falkvinge

Rick is Head of Privacy at Private Internet Access. He is also the founder of the first Pirate Party and is a political evangelist, traveling around Europe and the world to talk and write about ideas of a sensible information policy. Additionally, he has a tech entrepreneur background and loves good whisky and fast motorcycles.


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4 Comments

  1. dav12

    Yes our children have lost these rights only because of the apathy or the let someone else take care of it attitude that todays children have . What do you expect with this kind of attitude . When they don’t or won’t vote and don’t or won’t participate i todays political process . I too am saddened about the erosion of our civil liberties but this is what a majority of our young have chosen through nonaction to give away . Our children need to make their own voices heard .

    4 years ago
    Reply
    1. jcm

      i can’t be easy to raise your voice when you’ve been educated all your life to be silent. it’s not an excuse; it’s a reflection. every generation has it’s round of abusers, until someone gets enough, discomfort grows and revolutions are made. (then they become the new bullies.) it may seem hopeless now, with all this sci-fi techno bullies… but we’ll get our chance and we’ll kick them in the nuts. goliath was bigger and tougher, but david didn’t exactly played nice… mine is not a cry for conformism, but exactly the opposite, though.

      4 years ago
      Reply
  2. Micke

    Very well pointed out!

    4 years ago
    Reply
  3. Aylagh MacAnnadh

    Interesting but don’t you think it’s always been around even in our
    parents time. They had J. Edgar Hoover & the Commie Crazies of
    McCarthyism & the Cold War. Our country has lost something even
    more precious, we’ve lost any semblance of personal ethics, personal
    character, honorable behavior & dare I say it, morality. Now I know
    where all of it goes the minute you mention morality but I’m not
    speaking of the morality of any one religion I’m speaking of the ease
    with which people will just walk all over others to get what they want.
    I won’t even go into my own thoughts on same sex marriage but what I do
    have a problem with is the HOW it was and is still being done.
    Americans ALL have the right to their beliefs without being put down,
    villainize anyone who does not share their opinion If you didn’t approve of same sex marriage then you were a homophobe, a bigot, a hater, a religious nut etc., etc.. I even read where some people came out in posts on certain sites and said to hell with religious freedom, to hell with the first amendment?? HUH?? Hello, are we forgetting a little something? The constitution says ‘WE THE PEOPLE’. Is not the US supposed to be a government by the people for the people. Hence my other problem. The states where the people actually took a vote as to what they wanted the laws of their state to be and amended the constitution of their state. I don’t think it’s right for a judge to step in on his own and overthrow an amendment to any states constitution without going through the proper channels. People are just not thinking in some ways. If you look at certain politicians who have stood out against things like same sex marriage for 40 years all of a sudden changing and being in support of it? Have they really changed and honestly support it or would being tagged with the label homophobe and hater be bad for his/her political career? I’m getting a little long here but there’s a thought there I’m just not pulling out which regards the why and to what ends is all this information gathering? You can only attribute it to the individual or group desires or goals which they decide they will obtain at any means and that means manipulation if necessary. Information can be used to manipulate, pressure, deceive, silence, threaten etc., basically how can it be used against us and to what end. As you said back then it wasn’t as prevelant. In 1967 we lived in a very rural area and only had access to a party line which we shared with three other families. If our parents caught us eavesdropping we were in trouble because it was a PRIVATE conversation. I don’t remember catching them listening in on the other parties either or we just never caught them LOL?
    There was an interesting poll which was run out of USC, basically a questionnaire was handed out with a series of questions regarding the persons opinions on topics relating to GLBT marriage etc., & the 1st set of questionnaires which were distributed required the participant to identify themselves, name, address the basic kind of information you would fill out on the top of any form. The 2nd group were handed out the same questionnaire with the only difference was the 2nd group was not required to give any identifying information what so ever. I’m honestly surprised they didn’t expect to see at least a small degree of what they found but they were a little overwhelmed. Both groups being similar in age, location, sex, etc..

    The identified group showed 63 % in favor of same sex marriage & 31% against with 6% didn’t care either way. The group without identification showed 35% in favor, 61% against & 4% didn’t care either way. Now, I know this was a small study, limited in scope however, I would like to know why it and so many other studies to which the powers that be didn’t like the results so they just disappeared, swept under the carpet by the liberal media. SOP for this day & age.
    So, how much has it changed or are we just doing it a different way? We get a lot of personal information on people but with what goal?
    I’d be interested in hearing your opinions as I’m just a bit on the confused side but there’s something there which I just can’t seem to put together. I’ve read so many interesting posts on this and other topics here and by a good number of people who, simply by the way they write are respectable people who are after what everyone else in this crazy world is after, answers!
    God Bless all
    & Thank you
    Aylagh

    4 years ago
    Reply