Informed Consent

When the Resurrection Auto Parts website had an active forum, John Twelve Hawks proposed three principles of privacy that were inspired by the modern Greek constitution:

  • Every person’s home is a sanctuary.
  • The private and family life of the individual is inviolable.
  • The secrecy of letters and all other forms of correspondence or communications are inviolable.

John saw these three principles as a starting part for a discussion about the attack on privacy. But the spread of what he calls “the Vast Machine” had shown how far away we are from this ideal. In our modern society, technology moves at an astounding pace; far faster than our legal system can keep up with.

The omnipresent CCTV cameras in every major city in the world are a visible symbol of a high-tech system of surveillance and monitoring.

But the Vast Machine is largely invisible, and pervasive. It occurs when business and government databases share and cross-reference our personal information. This is done automatically, and without out knowledge and consent. Banks, insurance companies and government agencies are beginning to create “parameters of normalcy.” If you make a small mistake or if there is identity confusion you can be suspected of criminal activity.

The Vast Machine treats all of us as if we were guilty of something. This surveillance system is beginning to act like an invisible police force, judge and jury. With the advent of fast facial recognition and behavioral tracking, this situation will only escalate.

‘But what about terrorism?’ Asks the chattering class. ‘What about crime?’

If someone is suspected of a crime, then the authorities need to get the approval of a judge or an independent panel before they can invade a citizen’s privacy.

For the rest of us – the so-called “average citizens” — the general rule should be: informed consent. It’s all right if you want to let Amazon – or Facebook – track your purchases and personal interactions. But you need to be asked for your consent, and you need the right to say “NO.”

Unless accused of a crime, we should live lives that are both private and free.

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