Big Brother Gains a New Foothold in California Charities

When Big Brother is watching you, he can tell anyone he wants about what you are doing.

Here is a suggestion: in order to have open government I think there should be a public database that anyone can access in order to find out your complete voting record. Everyone you voted for should be a available as public knowledge to every one of your neighbors. When you apply for a job, the decision maker should have access to your complete voting history.

Right?

No, that would be awful. It would basically invite reprisals ranging from being threatened with violence—depending on what neighborhood you live in—to being fired for fake reasons from your job because your boss doesn’t like your politics.

But the government could pretend they weren’t doing anything to you and that you had complete freedom to vote for anyone you wanted to vote for.

Big Brother can threaten and punish you without lifting a government-funded finger against you. Private jackboots would do the stomping on your face for them.

[See also, “The IRS Needs to Be Abolished on Fourth Amendment Grounds.”]

So here is Big Brother getting bigger in California according to the L.A. Times: “California charities must disclose major donors, court rules.”

State law requires groups registered as charities to disclose the names and contributions of “significant donors” reported to the IRS. The center for years has filed the reports with the state but redacted the names of donors.

In 2014, Harris ordered the center and other nonprofits to disclose the identities of donors who contributed more than $5,000 in a single year. The disclosures are not made public, but office staff examine them for potential suspicious activity.

The center argued the reporting requirement could make donors fearful of contributing because Harris’ system for preserving confidentiality was not fail-safe.

The court called that argument “speculative” and concluded the rule served a valid law enforcement purpose.

Speculative? After the way the CEO and Founder of Mozilla was thrown out of his own company because of a donation to defending marriage in California that he had made several years earlier?

By the way, I realize that we all need to worry about corporate influence that gains some degree of power when it is secret. There is a case to be made for open records in some cases. But my point here is that the opposite practice can lead to just as serious injustices. The fact is that coming up with a “fair” way to preserve democracy is a headache. In this case, however, the courts are overturning normal customs and assuming that the enforcement powers of the state mean they don’t require a warrant or probable cause but simply have the right to investigate records. To me that is like saying because the police have a legitimate interest in stopping crime in my home they should be able to enter whenever they want to do so.