Joins With Clinton Administration's Peter Swire in Op-Ed
WASHINGTON, D.C. - In an opinion piece published today, “Ensuring privacy’s post-attack survival,” PFF President Jeff Eisenach joins with former Clinton administration official Peter P. Swire to call for the creation of a national commission on privacy, personal freedom and homeland security. The last time a commission examined privacy was in 1977, prior to recent technological advances and the post-9/11 surveillance push. They call on Congress to create such a commission as part of the legislation creating the Department of Homeland Security.
“At the moment, the need to connect-the-dots associated with terrorism is first on our minds, as it should be,” write Eisenach and Swire in an article published by CNET. “In the future, however, there will be temptations to combine the information-gathering power of technology with the police power of the new Homeland Security Department to pursue all sorts of ‘worthy’ agendas. The obvious risk is a permanent diminution in privacy, personal liberty and the open society freedoms that have characterized America from the start.” Eisenach, who is president of The Progress and Freedom Foundation, served at the OMB under President Reagan; Swire, who teaches law at Ohio State University, was President Clinton’s chief counselor for privacy.
The bipartisan duo says the new commission would have several important missions: To consider the privacy implications of the “revolutionary changes in recent years in communication, surveillance and database technology,” examine how to maintain government accountability and the goals of the Freedom of Information Act, and to consider the tradeoffs between freedom and security.
The commission “would address the concerns of all Americans that we organize government not only to defeat terrorism and protect our nation, but to maintain the heritage of freedom that gives those efforts meaning,” Eisenach and Swire write. “Whatever tradeoffs we make between freedom and security, it is important we make them in the open.”
The Progress & Freedom Foundation is a market-oriented think tank that studies the digital revolution and its implications for public policy. It is a 501(c)(3) research & educational organization.