Spying Doesn't Violate Your Privacy Unless You Find Out About It, Says House Intelligence Chair

Future Tense
The Citizen's Guide to the Future
Oct. 31 2013 2:34 PM

House Intelligence Chair: "You Can't Have Your Privacy Violated if You Don't Know Your Privacy Is Violated"

Anyone have some naked pictures of Mike Rogers, chair of the House Intelligence Committee? Want to send them to me? Don't worry, we won't be violating his privacy unless he finds out about it. 

Thanks to Techdirt's Mike Masnick for highlighting this fascinating bit of sophistry from the Michigan Republican and former FBI agent, who is running the hearings charged with reviewing the National Security Agency's mass-surveillance programs. Rogers reportedly plans to introduce legislation that would keep those surveillance programs largely intact, while adding a little more transparency. By his own logic, though, wouldn't that transparency actually harm people's privacy?

Advertisement

Perhaps we should call this little philosophical conundrum "Rogers' paradox" and bring in some of our deepest thinkers to have at it. Or perhaps we should just rephrase the Congressman's stance as, "what you don't know can't hurt you," and recognize it as an age-old excuse for people in power to trample on the rights of those without it. Either way, we should definitely discuss it over wine. What's the ideal pairing, do you suppose, for a little friendly repartee about how best to justify a vast government surveillance program?

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

Will Oremus is Slate's senior technology writer.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Smash and Grab

Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?

Stop Panicking. America Is Now in Very Good Shape to Respond to the Ebola Crisis.

The 2014 Kansas City Royals Show the Value of Building a Mediocre Baseball Team

The GOP Won’t Win Any Black Votes With Its New “Willie Horton” Ad

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

Technocracy

Forget Oculus Rift

This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual reality experience.

One of Putin’s Favorite Oligarchs Wants to Start an Orthodox Christian Fox News

These Companies in Japan Are More Than 1,000 Years Old

Trending News Channel
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 20 2014 8:14 PM You Should Be Optimistic About Ebola Don’t panic. Here are all the signs that the U.S. is containing the disease.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 20 2014 7:23 PM Chipotle’s Magical Burrito Empire Keeps Growing, Might Be Slowing
  Life
Outward
Oct. 20 2014 3:16 PM The Catholic Church Is Changing, and Celibate Gays Are Leading the Way
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I Am 25. I Don't Work at Facebook. My Doctors Want Me to Freeze My Eggs.
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 20 2014 7:15 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 9 A spoiler-filled discussion of "Flatline."
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 20 2014 9:13 PM The Smart, Talented, and Utterly Hilarious Leslie Jones Is SNL’s Newest Cast Member
  Technology
Technocracy
Oct. 20 2014 11:36 PM Forget Oculus Rift This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual reality experience.
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Oct. 20 2014 11:46 AM Is Anybody Watching My Do-Gooding? The difference between being a hero and being an altruist.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.