Monday, January 15, 2007

Computer spells woe

"Is it worth reminding the government of the point of privacy, and why its protection is so eminently worth the price of non-joined-up government record-keeping? It might be an instructive exercise for Mr Blair to be asked these questions: can he explain why every human rights convention specifies a right to privacy as fundamental? Can he see any connection between the right - the need - the value - of privacy to Prince William's girlfriend, which one assumes he supports, and the general principle of privacy for every other citizen in the state? Does he understand that according rights and liberties to individuals carries a cost, which is that it is harder for government and the police to keep tabs on people, including the greater inconvenience of catching criminals, and that this is a cost worth paying? Is it conceivable that he might be able to see matters for one moment not from the point of view of what makes the work of policemen and bureaucrats easier, but from the point of view of individuals who do not wish to be monitored objects in a system of surveillance, like cattle in a herd with their ears punch-labelled?

"Alas, one can exactly imagine how he would dodge these questions, and even the hand movements he would make while doing so." —A.C. Grayling (via Action on Rights for Children)

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