On Wednesday FBI Director James Comey said there is no such thing as absolute privacy in America
(WASHINGTON, DC) During a speech at Boston College FBI Director James Comey told a gathering of private sector experts attending the Boston Conference on Cyber Security that there is no such thing as absolute privacy in America.
Comey added that even an individuals memories are not absolutely private in America, and that under appropriate circumstances a US judge could compel any American to divulge private communications between attorney and client, husband and wife, and even church attendee and pastor.
“Heres something I don't want to freak you out with, but I think is true. Even our memories are not absolutely private in America. Any of us can be compelled in appropriate circumstances to say what we remember, what we saw. Even our communications with our spouses, with our clergy members, with our attorneys, are not absolutely private in America. In appropriate circumstances a judge can compel any one of us to testify in court about those very private communications, and there are really really important constraints on law enforcement, as there should be. But the general principle is one we've always accepted in this country, there is no thing as absolute privacy in America. There is no place in America outside of judicial reach, thats the bargain. And we made that bargain over two centuries ago to achieve two goals, to achieve the very very important goal of privacy, and to achieve the very important goal of security. Widespread default encryption changes that bargain. In my view it shatters that bargain, and theres something seductive about the notion of absolute privacy.”
In his speech Comey inferred that the Founding Fathers would understand a compromise on privacy in exchange for necessary security.
Benjamin Franklin, one of the signatories to the U.S. Constitution and the Declaration of Independence and arguably one of the most influential Founding Fathers on the philosophy of freedom, wrote the following on behalf of the Pennsylvania assembly in November of 1755:
“Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”