Presidential Candidate Forbes Gives Address on Privacy
(December 18, 1999) Steve Forbes, a Republican presidential candidate, gave a speech on Thursday, December 16, in Washington regarding what a Forbes administration would do to protect individuals' privacy.
|See, Forbes' Privacy Speech, 12/16/99.|
Forbes addressed the Free Congress Foundation on what he termed as "the brazen and dangerous assault on the privacy and personal freedoms of the American people by the greedy hand of government."
The main focus of Forbes speech was the threat which the government poses to medical records privacy. He also lashed out at IRS abuses of privacy. He went on to list numerous other government agency abuses. He also made a vague statement regarding encryption rights.
Forbes stated that "the Clinton-Gore Administration is engaged in the greatest assault on the medical privacy of the American people in the history of this country. In the name of protecting our medical privacy, this Administration is actually trying to strip it away."
"Today, the Clinton-Gore Department of Health and Human Services is developing a battery of regulations that would legalize access to your medical records without your consent. They are in the initial stages of creating a massive, centralized national health care database, and a national health care ID system that would assign a "unique health identifier" to every man, woman and child in the United States."
Forbes also hammered the administration on the FBI files scandal. "Do you trust Bill Clinton and Al Gore to know everything there is to know about your medical history? Do you trust the same Administration that was found in possession of more than 900 FBI files on their political opponents to create a massive, centralized medical database that will contain every intimate detail of your medical history, available to thousands of bureaucrats, political appointees and others at the touch of a button?"
He added: "How could we ever be sure our sensitive personal medical information in a government-run database wouldn't be stolen, leaked, or sold to HMOs, pharmaceutical companies, direct marketing companies and others?"
|See, Steve Forbes 2000 web site.|
Forbes criticizes the IRS for repeatedly privacy abuses by its personnel. He stated that "In 1995, for example, more than 500 IRS agents were caught illegally snooping through the tax records of thousands of Americans - friends, enemies, neighbors, celebrities."
Forbes went on to list a wide range of abuses, or proposals to abuse, privacy rights by government agencies. the Social Security Administration to the Department of Education.
Forbes stated that he opposes the following:
He also said that his administration would:
Forbes only briefly touched upon threats to privacy poses by the commercial sector. He said that "Serious privacy issues have arisen in the private sector, from how marketers accumulate and disseminate information about interests, tastes and hobbies to how far private detective agencies and Internet search companies should be allowed to go towards developing a dossier on fellow citizens. And they deserve serious attention."
But he concluded that "the biggest and most serious threat to our privacy comes from a massive federal government ..."
|Related Story: Advocates Split Over Which Threatens Privacy More: Governments or Commerce|
Protecting privacy is neither an intense nor partisan issue in the Congress. However, there are some patterns. Generally, Republicans and conservatives who take an interest in protecting privacy see government entities as the threat. In contrast, Democrats and liberals who take an interest in privacy tend to see businesses as the greater threat.
Forbes' also addressed encryption, but in rather vague terms. The following is all that he said:
"The Forbes Administration will protect the electronic privacy of the American people by allowing the development and sale of strong encryption software for personal and commercial use. Unlike, the current Administration, we will not allow Washington to force encryption makers or users to hand over their "keys" to unlock and read their private communications."