Lack of Privacy Destroys the Economy

Mass Surveillance Destroys Innovation, Trust, the U.S. Internet Market and Other Foundations of Prosperity

Edward Snowden said yesterday:

The success of economies in developed nations relies increasingly on their creative output, and if that success is to continue we must remember that creativity is the product of curiosity, which in turn is the product of privacy.

He’s right. Anonymity and privacy increase innovation.

Anyone who has ever played a musical instrument knows that you need time to experiment and try new things in the privacy of your home – or your band’s garage – in order to improve. If every practice was at Carnegie Hall in front of a big crowd, you would be too self-conscious to experiment and try something new.

Same with every other field. Think of an artist painting in the middle of a major museum. Or a beginning programmer (think of a young Bill Gates or Steve Jobs) whose code is being livecast all over the Internet. Or a brilliant inventor (such as a leaner Elon Musk) whose first rough sketch is being dissected in real time.

As 4Chan’s founder noted:

[Facebook founder Mark] Zuckerberg’s totally wrong on anonymity being total cowardice. Anonymity is authenticity. It allows you to share in a completely unvarnished, raw way,” Poole said, adding that the internet allows people to “reinvent themselves” as if they were moving home or starting a new job.

“The cost of failure is really high when you’re contributing as yourself,” he said.

Moreover, trust is key for a prosperous economy. It’s hard to trust when your government, your internet service provider and your favorite websites are all spying on you.

In addition, the destruction of privacy by the NSA directly harms internet companies, Silicon Valley, California … and the entire U.S. economy (Facebook lost 11 millions users as of April mainly due to privacy concerns … and that was before the Snowden revelations)

And as we noted last December:

Personal freedom and liberty – and freedom from the arbitrary exercise of government power – are strongly correlated with a healthy economy, but America is descending into tyranny.

Authoritarian actions by the government interfere with the free market, and thus harm prosperity.

U.S. News and World Report notes:

The Fraser Institute’s latest Economic Freedom of the World Annual Report is out, and the news is not good for the United States. Ranked among the five freest countries in the world from 1975 through 2002, the United States has since dropped to 18th place.

The Cato institute notes:

The United States has plummeted to 18th place in the ranked list, trailing such countries as Estonia, Taiwan, and Qatar.

***

Actually, the decline began under President George W. Bush. For 20 years the U.S. had consistently ranked as one of the world’s three freest economies, along with Hong Kong and Singapore. By the end of the Bush presidency, we were barely in the top ten.

And, as with so many disastrous legacies of the Bush era, Barack Obama took a bad thing and made it worse.

But the American government has shredded the constitution, by … spying on all Americans, and otherwise attacking our freedoms.

Indeed, rights won in 1215 – in the Magna Carta – are being repealed.

Economic historian Niall Ferguson notes, draconian national security laws are one of the main things undermining the rule of law:

We must pose the familiar question about how far our civil liberties have been eroded by the national security state – a process that in fact dates back almost a hundred years to the outbreak of the First World War and the passage of the 1914 Defence of the Realm Act. Recent debates about the protracted detention of terrorist suspects are in no way new. Somehow it’s always a choice between habeas corpus and hundreds of corpses.

Of course, many of this decades’ national security measures have not been taken to keep us safe in the “post-9/11 world” … indeed, many of them [including spying on Americans] started before 9/11.

And America has been in a continuous declared state of national emergency since 9/11, and we are in a literally never-ending state of perpetual war. See this, this, this and this.

***

So lawlessness infringement of our liberty is destroying our prosperity.

Put another way, lack of privacy kills the ability to creatively criticize bad government policy … and to demand enforcement of the rule of law.

Free speech and checks and balances on the power of government officials are two of the main elements of justice in any society. And a strong rule of law is – in turn – the main determinant of GDP growth.

Tyler Durden of Zero Hedge points out (edited slightly for readability):

Though often maligned (typically by those frustrated by an inability to engage in ad hominem attacks), anonymous speech has a long and storied history in the United States. Used by the likes of Mark Twain (aka Samuel Langhorne Clemens) to criticize common ignorance, and perhaps most famously by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay (aka publius) to write the Federalist Papers, we think ourselves in good company in using one or another nom de plume.

Particularly in light of an emerging trend against vocalizing public dissent in the United States, we believe in the critical importance of anonymity and its role in dissident speech.

Like the Economist magazine, we also believe that keeping authorship anonymous moves the focus of discussion to the content of speech and away from the speaker – as it should be. We believe not only that you should be comfortable with anonymous speech in such an environment, but that you should be suspicious of any speech that isn’t.

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  • Absconditus

    Not only that. With big CorpGov on the pipelines. If you have a good idea. Good luck creating something that isn’t stolen from you before you finish.

    I also agree that anonymity and the internet provide a somewhat raw and unfiltered medium for communication. No preconceived notions or peer pressure. Will they discount me because I’m disheveled this morning? All that matters is what you have to say.

  • gozounlimited

    anonymous authorship…. no facebook, no twitter, no selfies, no games ….. that’s the definition of GOZO…..

  • http://www.agemofanidea.com/ Mymulticast

    The future for innovation will be those who solve end users protection solution in a novel way yet allowing innovation to flourish for next generations to re invent and fight for their digital rights. @mymulticast

  • Diana

    That’s their plan all along. To destroy everything American. they’ll only succeed if we LET them.

    • Ansky

      No, they will succeed if we don’t stop them actively.

  • willybobby

    Then the government sees no need but to stay the course. You think they want people to be creative and think for themselves…?…they want mindless brains to shape for their way of thinking.

  • cswanee

    But sometimes anonymous speech does not enhance democracy, the economy, or the public good. Anonymous paid advertising in campaigns, either for candidates or ballot measures, is nearly always harmful. In part that is because it is paid speech (not free speech), but in part it is because it is not attributable.

  • TommyO

    (F) u – ck the fascist NSA!!!!!!!!!!!

 

 

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