By Michael Hampton
As you are probably aware, the greatest threat to your privacy and well-being stems from the government, whether directly or indirectly. Even the “freest” or “most democratic” governments have committed their share of atrocities, and even if you think you’re safe today, if the political winds blow in a different direction tomorrow, you could be the next victim.
Today, governments use databases to track virtually everything, including their own people. So an important part of protecting yourself is to minimize the amount of information governments have about you.
Unlike businesses, which use databases to reduce the costs of the products and services they provide on a voluntary basis, governments of all stripes use databases of people in order to track, monitor, forcibly control and even kill them more efficiently. Indeed, for a government, this is the only purpose for a database of people.
The most important thing to remember is that being innocent will not protect you. It didn’t protect Japanese-Americans in the 1940s, it didn’t protect people falsely accused of being Communists in the 1950s, and it doesn’t protect innocent people who have had their property wrongly seized or been killed in botched drug raids today.
Staying out of government databases, to the maximum extent possible, is the best way to protect yourself from whatever dark fate your government has in store for you tomorrow. These tips will help those of you who want to protect your privacy to do so without unnecessarily sacrificing your quality of life.
Government gets most of its information about you from you, so limiting the amount of information you give the government is the easiest way to protect yourself.
If you can avoid it, do not obtain a driver license or state ID card. The driver license, despite its dubious legality and its utter irrelevance to the physical act of driving a vehicle, has become so pervasive that virtually everyone now has one. Whether by accident or design, it stands as the de facto ID through which you’re tracked, even without the REAL ID Act, by local, state and federal government alike. If you must obtain one, then you can ensure that the information on it is out of date the moment it’s issued, by obtaining the license and then immediately — the same day — moving to a new address. You can also provide an address you haven’t lived at for years, if ever. The same applies to vehicle registrations. Keep in mind that governments don’t like it when the information you’ve given them is inaccurate or outdated, and usually have laws against it; however, such laws are virtually unenforceable.
Obtain a “fake” ID and use it wherever possible, but never with the government. Many places which ask for a government-issued ID these days have no legitimate reason to ask, or their reason for asking could be satisfied through other means. For instance, hotels ask for ID not because they need to know who you are, but because they want to know that you can pay for your room and any damages you may cause. This need could be met through the use of a credit card or through other means, but the prevalence of government ID cards has caused people to rely on them when other solutions would work as well or better. Jim Harper from the Cato Institute addresses this issue in his book, Identity Crisis. Never use your real name or ID unless the government has actually required it, and be aware that many places will tell you the government requires it, when it does not, such as for air travel. In the U.S., under common law, you may use any name you like, as long as you aren’t trying to defraud.
Do not give out your Social Security number, if you have one, to anyone except the government. Do not give it to your bank, nor your credit card issuer, nor anyone else, who isn’t actually required by the government to collect it. (Your bank does not need a Social Security or tax ID number unless you have an interest-bearing account.) If you’ve already given it to your bank, for instance, change banks.
On that note, do not keep large amounts of money in banks. All fiat currencies depreciate much faster than any rate of interest you’ll ever be offered; even interest-bearing offerings will lose money over the long term, adjusted for inflation. True money of intrinsic value, such as gold, silver and platinum, is much more stable, holding its value over the long term, and should be a significant part of any respectable investment portfolio, if not under your pillow.
Do not participate in the census. Sure, your local bureaucrats will try to guilt trip you into filling it out, because they get more of your money if you do. But census data is among the most detailed information the government collects, it’s been abused before, and government has no legitimate purpose for collecting most of what they ask for these days. The most they need to know is the number of people in your house, not even who they are, and even that is probably too much to tell them.
Be aware of what data government collects and how it uses that data. Remember that the use that seems benign today may turn malevolent next year, and by then it’s too late. Evaluate a government data collection program not just on its merits but its potential for misuse in the future. Ask yourself, What could Hitler do with this database? That will tell you what its true potential is. Keep in mind nobody saw Hitler’s evil coming; he looked like a perfectly normal politician to almost everyone, putting Germany on the path to economic recovery, right up until he started exterminating people.
Always remember that government is evil. Thomas Paine said, “Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one.” (And a growing number of people believe that government is an unnecessary evil which should be dispensed with as soon as possible so that we can finally have a civilized society.) As we all know by now, the Constitution is no guarantee that our government will remain in “its best state;” indeed, the government violates it with impunity by having its own court redefine what “is” — or the inconvenient word of the day — is. It’s only a matter of time before government violates your rights, if it hasn’t already, and it probably has.
This is why we were admonished by the country’s founders to distrust government. And that is the best advice of all.