The Big Brother Fear Factor


We do live in strange times. We lie about our identities to get free subscriptions on some lame websites, but we totally remain unaware of the big brother aspect of some of the recent government policies. And in fact the situation has become so bad that mostly conservative CATO Institute has put out a new report that points out that US government, not private sector is the real threat to consumer privacy. Jim Harper, Cato’s director of information policy studies and editor of, draws a distinction between government and private sector dangers to individual privacy in his most recent report.

He also explains why Americans should be primarily concerned with government and privacy-reducing legislation, such as the USA Patriot Act. Harper categorizes three principal risks from the government: surveillance; the collection and sharing of personal information; and laws and regulations that erode privacy. He argues that “nearly every law has consequences for privacy, and many laws are very harmful to privacy indeed.” When laws and regulations are proposed, the invasion of individual privacy should be taken into account. “Thoughtful policymakers in the future will recognize the detrimental effects many programs have on consumers’ privacy and respond with proposals that reduce the role of government in individuals’ lives,” writes Harper. “Privacy thrives when aware and empowered citizens are able to exercise control of information about themselves.”

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