9 thoughts on “Privatization.

  1. Brilliant and I mean that in a sincere way. This is why the pritivization of truly government functions like prisons is always a bad idea. Constitutional protections aren’t the perfect shield to government misconduct but they are a protector of sorts. When private entities conduct government business, the protections offered by the Constitution do not apply.

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    • “When private entities conduct government business, the protections offered by the Constitution do not apply.”

      Well, it depends. Private entities that act as “state actors” are indeed subject to the Constitutional protections in the Bill of Rights. However, not every private entity that contracts with the government can be considered a “state actor.”

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  2. “It doesn’t matter!” said the Cynic. “That’s the beauty of it. Because they’re private, they can be… flexible, shall we say. They don’t need to obey the Fourth Amendment — not under the Third Party Doctrine.”

    To be fair, the president did acknowledge that though this was (more or less) in the recommendations provided to him, it isn’t really an answer.

    any third party maintaining a single, consolidated database would be carrying out what is essentially a government function but with more expense, more legal ambiguity, potentially less accountability — all of which would have a doubtful impact on increasing public confidence that their privacy is being protected.

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  3. On the one hand, the proposed requirement of a search-by-search application to the FISA court before using the database strikes me as a non-trivial concession to the Fourth Amendment.

    But the idea that the private corporation would sell licenses to mine the metadata to other entities had not occurred to me yet, to be honest, although I suspect it would have eventually.

    And I’m still puzzling through how privacy can exist at all in world with a robust Third Party Doctrine.

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      • “data that’s already being collected by third parties.”

        That’s what immediately came to mind when I got to the part about how “It scoops up things like the time, the telephone numbers for all parties, and the duration.”

        Wouldn’t it be more accurate to say that the phone company “scoops” up all this info and then sells it to the NSA? Yes, that would indeed be more accurate.

        Didn’t Edward Snowden work for Booz Allen Hamilton? Yes, he did.

        And yet we have the Cynic saying this:

        “Take this program,” said the Cynic. “And privatize it.”

        Done so.

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  4. You can’t make a function that government shouldn’t be carrying it out into one it should by having the government pay a private entity to do it. You first have to decide if you want this thing to be done at the government’s behest at all, and then decide whether, if so, it’s the kind of thing/function that will be improved by moving its operation to the private sector.

    On the last question in the general case, the theory is pretty strong that moving functions from government to private operation will improve their efficiency and/or quality. that’s why it’s most helpful to observe and point out and learn from all the specific instances in practice when it’s unclear that that theory bears out, or when it’s clear that it doesn’t.

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