Transparent and Opaque

While working at XMission, I received a call from someone who purported to be a marketer. He asked me if I would sell him my customer information. I told him no and that it was against our policy to give out any customer information without a court order. He pressed me further saying, “Come on, there has to be a price.” I refused again, stating that customer privacy was a very important part of XMission. He asked me a third time, “You’re sure?” I told him positively. He then lifted the ruse and said, “Good job, you’ve earned a new customer.”

Part of my business philosophy is to run the company as if I were a customer. I am frequently annoyed to find my personal information sold down the river by companies I do business with, so I decided never to do that to my own customers. In speaking before a Utah state committee on ISPs sharing customer information, I related this policy and asked why they were considering this in relation to only ISPs. Why aren’t other companies, by law, required to notify customers that their personal information is being rented out to the highest bidder?

If only our federal government treated privacy of the individual with the same concern. Instead of following clear constitutional rules, the attitude for some is, “Whatever we can get away with.” How would the officials responsible for these violations feel if their own private conversations were monitored? Why is transparency of the people more important to some officials than transparency in government?

Certainly national security is a concern that should not be diminished. However, our constitution does not deny warranted investigation. What it sets down are the rules for how that is to take place. When wiretaps, emails, or other communications are spied upon without proper court order, then we as Americans are losing a significant portion of our freedom. The constitution puts restraint on government for good reason, it rarely restrains itself.

I continue to advocate for the preservation and expansion of Fourth Amendment privacy rights. Conversely, if elected, my office will be as transparent as possible without violating others’ individual privacy.

Privacy is a fundamental right and value of America.

9 thoughts on “Transparent and Opaque

  1. Pete,

    This is a timely subject matter. The Senate rejecting the renewal of the Patriot Act with out change. Bush trying to justify his end run around existing laws regarding rights of privacy. The Senator from Alaska attaching a rider to the defense bill.

    Neither Hatch or Bennett returned my calls saying such action by a fellow senator was unethical. But I guess I am not disallusioned by their non replying.

  2. “Why aren’t other companies, by law, required to notify customers that their personal information is being rented out to the highest bidder?”

    Because the other companies are represented by lobbyists, who pay legislators big bucks to push the companies’ agenda and who, inevitably, have it their way. This won’t change until there is fundamental change to the role of lobbyists in the state of Utah. Right now, legislators can be bought, pure and simple.

  3. Amen!

    If I know that a company will probably sell my info, I intentionally give them a bad spelling of my name, or a phony middle initial or something.

    I even get catalogues to “Don’t Sell My Name” at my address.


  4. “..losing a significant portion of our freedom.”

    Hmm, I can still make phone calls to anywhere in the world. I have not heard of anyone who can’t.
    I think we are confused what freedom is.

    Many, many Americans give their country the freedom to listen to their conversations in hopes they will catch people planning to do harm or TRULY take freedom away from others.

    If I am doing nothing wrong, I have nothing to worry about.

  5. Privacy is a fundamental right and value of America.

    Time to read the fourth amendment again. There is a right against illegal search and seaizure, but there is NO right to privacy. This was a bill of goods sold to the Amercian people 30 years ago. And since god forbid anyone actually read the Constitution anymore, if they heard it in the news it must be so. The rest of his post was sounding good until this last little tid bit.

    With statements like this voters can be bought just as easy as legislators.

  6. “expansion of Fourth Amendment privacy rights”

    I agree, more of the internal workings of the US government should remain private.

  7. I suspect that legislation prohibiting the sale of personal info would have wheels almost as fast as the “Do Not Call” legislation. Americans don’t like it, but individually have little power to stop it.

    It’s a great example of a chance for the Gov’t to pass a simple law that is good for all Americans. Keep talking it up!

  8. Dude, I think you need to go back and brush up your Economy section. You are getting murdered for the foolish and naive characterizations in there.

    “what have we produced lately”
    um, alot, hello? this could at least be rephrased to indicate the failure is *political will* not American Industriousness ™
    “developing trains that float with no moving parts”
    these magical trains are called maglevs and do not alone suffice for a national transportation policy, which you could actually expound a lot more on as our entire economy is very automobile/highway hamstrung. Fusion is still vapor (no pun intended). There is a massive amount of work that could be done in enhancing efficiency of existing sources, distribution mechanism and engines, as well as implementing alternative power sources that actually will work today (not fusion).

  9. It could be argued that privacy is an inalienable right, even if it didn’t appear in the Constitution. Consider that without privacy, one cannot be truly free. Don’t we all know this instinctively?

    Luckily though, reasonable people will agree that the Fourth Amendment means “right to privacy” and the Supreme Court has already confirmed this for at least the past generation of decisions (and we should grant that the SC justices are experts on the Constitution, right?). Does not privacy mean security in one’s person, house, papers and effects? I find it odd how some people seem to say “the exact words ‘right to privacy’ or ‘separation of church and state’ or ‘democracy’ don’t appear in the Constitution, therefore, these ideas are not prescribed with other terms. This is like talking about a person who says they want to kill somebody, and you construe it like: “Oh, he just wants to kill somebody–he said nothing about ‘murder’.” It’s just a matter of understanding of what words mean. And thus, the Fourth Amendments clearly spells out a right to privacy.

    Look, there are even people who misconstrue the Second Amendment to say it guarantees a right to bear arms only if one assembles into a state militia, instead of guaranteeing a full right to bear arms. People like to play semantics games with Constitutional text they don’t agree with.

    To sum: The right to privacy is arguably inalienable as a component of freedom, explicit in the Constitution, and confirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court. What more does anyone want?

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