When Privacy is Treason
The Surprisingly Short Life of Privacy
by EVAN YOES
DECEMBER 26, 2013
The word does not occur in our Constitution. It is a Judicial Construct by Extension from the British custom of granting privilege to an Englishman’s Private Property.
Privacy rode into our Bill of Rights on the Fourth Amendment, as authored by James Madison, which specifies protection against ‘unreasonable search and seizure’ of documents or persons without judicial warrant based upon ‘probable cause’. Extension of Fourth Amendment rights to include personal Privacy happened only in the 20th century — with Katz v. United States (1967), when the Supreme Court held that 4th Amendment protections extend to the privacy of individuals as well as physical locations.
When Kings ruled and lesser nobility took what they wanted from common people, rulers were always alert to plots against them. Spies were paid and eavesdropping rewarded. Communication among subjects, if in writing, was interdicted or intercepted as necessary. The Royal Post in England was created under Henry VIII, in response to the desire of authorities to control publication and dissemination of ideas. Especially heretical ones.
In July 1655 the Post Office came under the direct control of John Thurloe, a Secretary of State, Cromwell’s spymaster general. Previous English governments had tried to prevent conspirators communicating; Thurloe preferred to deliver their posts having surreptitiously read them.
In those times, even people exchanging letters with friends often relied on various forms of secret writing. True cryptography — first developed by Islamic scholars in the 800s — bloomed again everywhere in Europe.