WORTH REPEATING: Gov’t Of The Corporations, By The Corporations And For The Corporations


SLATE: Once upon a time, you had to be a person to assert a right to personal privacy. But more and more it seems that the demand for personal privacy flows to large blurry advocacy groups and even larger, blurrier corporations. This trend would be alarming under any circumstances. As it happens, individual privacy rights for real humans seem to be shrinking at the same time corporate privacy rights are expanding. […] The Supreme Court has now agreed to hear a case in which AT&T prevailed in its efforts to evade a Freedom of Information Act request because Exemption 7(C) of FOIA, protecting “personal privacy,” also now protects the privacy of corporate entities. The 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals held that FOIA “unambiguously indicates that a corporation may have a “personal privacy” interest within the meaning of Exemption 7 (C)” and noted in a footnote that “corporations, like human beings, face public embarrassment, harassment, and stigma.”It used to be the case that embarrassment, harassment, and stigma were the best check against corporate wrongdoing. But that was before corporations had feelings.[…] Look. Nation. You can go ahead and anthropomorphize big corporations all you want. Pretend that AT&T has delicate feelings and that Wal-Mart has a just-barely-manageable phobia of spiders. But before we extend each and every protection granted in the Bill of Rights to the good folks at ExxonMobil, I have one small suggestion: Might we contemplate what’s happened to our own individual privacy in this country in recent years? That the government should have more and more access to our personal information, while we have less and less access to corporate information defies all logic. It’s one thing to ask us to give up personal liberty for greater safety or security. It’s another matter entirely to slowly take away privacy and dignity from living, breathing humans, while giving more and more of it to faceless interest groups and corporations. MORE

RELATED: For years, federal campaigns took place without effective disclosure laws. After Watergate, with its revelations of secret illegal corporate cash being funneled to candidates and with paper bags full of campaign money, Congress finally passed a law in 1974 requiring disclosure of contributions to candidates and political committees and the spending these groups engaged in. At this point, most political players were candidates, political parties or political action committees, and they all were subject to the disclosure rules. For a long time following, there was a virtual consensus in Congress that disclosure was the way to keep campaigns clean. MORE

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