Richard Posner in the NY Daily News: "Privacy is Overrated"

Privacy is overrated
Richard A. Posner
NY Daily News
April 28, 2013

This past Monday, Mayor Bloomberg said that in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings, the country’s interpretation of the Constitution “will have to change” in order to enable more effective prevention of and response to terrorist attacks and other violence, such as attacks on schoolchildren.

In particular, he wants a more welcoming attitude toward surveillance cameras, which played a crucial role in the apprehension of the Boston Marathon bombers — and would have been crucial had Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev come to New York to detonate a bomb in Times Square, as they apparently planned to. (Bloomberg has also announced a “Domain Awareness System” that will consolidate and distribute information received by the cameras and other tracking devices.)

All of which is to say that he wants concerns with privacy to take second place to concerns with security.

I strongly agree, though I’m not sure that the Constitution will have to be reinterpreted in order to enable the shift of emphasis that he (and I) favor. Neither the word “privacy” nor even the concept appears anywhere in the Constitution, and the current Supreme Court is highly sensitive, as it should be, to security needs. The Court can and doubtless will adjust the balance between privacy and security to reflect the increase in long-run threats to the lives of Americans.

Faculty: 
Richard A. Posner