In "Preventing-1984-in-2008" news, the Bush administration and the EFF will be squaring off today. At stake: whether ISPs should be legally accountable for illegally (or "homeland security legally") passing information to the NSA. Panopticonic issues withstanding, I think this is a very tricky issue. We once impeached a president for messing with tape...
But has our information landscape changed to the point where this kind of surveillance is necessary? I think I would draw on Bush's own response to the terrorists after 9/11--we cannot allow fear to impinge upon our freedoms. Of course, Bush wanted us all to go shopping. Which, looking at national credit card debt, we did. Now I think we need to heed the same call, and hold our own government, and whoever aided them, accountable.
After teaching my course on the history of education for the second time, I have even more respect for Kant brazenness. I appreciate his crafting of a private "public" sphere... one in which everyone has the right to speak. While Kant might have also mandated that we obey, he saw it as everyone's right to be free to speak and learn (and read and google search) without fear of impunity. Such "public" learning requires privacy. Those familiar with Kant's Conflict of the Faculties will get the whole "public/private" scare quoting.
Let's see how things shake out on Tuesday.