Blown To Bits

When Should the State Have Your Passwords?

Friday, January 2nd, 2009 by Harry Lewis

A new law in Georgia requires that registered sexual offenders give their usernames and passwords to the state so that authorities can read their email. The objective is to protect children. Is this reasonable?

Perhaps anyone convicted of a sexual crime can be considered to have sacrificed his right to privacy. But the category is actually fairly squishy. Recall the way UK censors labeled a ’70s LP album cover as “child pornography,” and the fact that until yesterday a woman could be arrested in Massachusetts for indecent exposure or lewd conduct — with a requirement that she register as a sexual offender — if she breast-fed her baby in public.

And if sexual offenders are a real risk of using email to harm children, surely corrupt stockbrokers are a risk of using email to scam customers, etc., etc. Why not make a general rule that if anyone is convicted of a crime, the state gets to monitor all their communications?

Is that the direction we want to go in the name of protecting ourselves?

One Response to “When Should the State Have Your Passwords?”

  1. Sarah Madson Says:

    I’ve enjoyed reading this post, thanks. We’ve justhad our first baby 8 weeks ago and thisis exactly what I was looking for, keep up the good work.