CNN's Jack Cafferty of the Cafferty File joined CNN's Wolf Blitzer on Monday to discuss a Bush Administration intelligence's official suggestion that the American people need to "redefine privacy" in order to confront the threats of the 21st century.
In late October, as the Associated Press reported, Donald Kerr, Principal Deputy Directory of National Intelligence, delivering the keynote address at GEOINT 2007 (the annual United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation symposium), said that today's times called for a new definition of privacy.
"Too often, privacy has been equated with anonymity; and it's an idea that is deeply rooted in American culture," Kerr said. "The Long Ranger wore a mask but Tonto didn't seem to need one even though he did the dirty work for free. You'd think he would probably need one even more. But in our interconnected and wireless world, anonymity -- or the appearance of anonymity -- is quickly becoming a thing of the past."
Kerr added, "We need to move beyond the construct that equates anonymity with privacy and focus more on how we can protect essential privacy in this interconnected environment.... I think all of us have to really take stock of what we already are willing to give up, in terms of anonymity, but what safeguards we want in place to be sure that giving that up doesn't empty our bank account or do something equally bad elsewhere."
According to Kerr, privacy should mean only that government and business are safeguarding people's sensitive information, rather than relying on anonymity.
"Of course, I trust the government to do that, don't you?" Cafferty asked facetiously. Cafferty went on to explain how, in his view, Congress' handling of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance act demonstrates that the government may not have the people's best interest in mind when it comes to privacy.
"Remember last summer when it was threatened they might be held and not be able to go on their break in time, they hastily changed the law and gave the government powers to eavesdrop inside the United States without a warrant as long as one of the parties was reasonably believed to be outside the United States."
"Reasonably believed," Cafferty added. "That's a loophole you could drive a train though."
Cafferty asked CNN viewers to weigh in on the privacy debate.
"The question then for this hour is this: A top intelligence official says it's time for people in the United States to redefine privacy," Cafferty said. "The question is: why should we?"
One viewer wrote in, "Good God, I wouldn't want my personal information to fall into the hands of a bunch of unsavory characters. So I better do everything in my power to keep it out of the government's hands."
Another opined, "Redefining privacy is a bit like redefining virginity. Once it's gone, it's gone."
The following video is from CNN's Cafferty File Jack Cafferty, broadcast on November 12, 2007