The "right to read" is essential in a democracy and is abridged when citizens can get "authentic" government information only from government-controlled
Stories such as the following two make us even more concerned about privacy and the right to read because they show the lengths to which the government will go when it has any access to information about the reading habits of citizens.
It is particularly revealing that these articles show that the government defends its right to do this by saying that some materials are acceptable and some are not. A DHS spokesman says, "We are completely uninterested in the latest Tom Clancy novel that the traveler may be reading" but the book "Drugs and Your Rights" fell into the category of an item that "leads the inspection officer to conclude there could be a possible violation of the law."
This is precisely the problem. Under these conditions, citizens may fear reading things that they think a low level bureaucrat might find suspicious — and thus the right to read is abridged.
- U.S. Airport Screeners Are Watching What You Read, by Ryan Singel, WIRED (09.20.07)
- Collecting of Details on Travelers Documented; U.S. Effort More Extensive Than Previously Known by Ellen Nakashima Washington Post (September 22, 2007)
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