Monday 13 December 2010

Some thoughts on Freedom of Information

Dear Philosophers,

We are told that rights should apply equally to all human beings, and if one of them is allowed an action it would be illicit to deny another the same action. Except, of course, that the people who are supposed to guarantee our rights government officials are the ones who claim exemption from this rule of universality. The Wikileaks affair reveals strikingly how rights don't apply equally. Forget taxes, pension differentials, life employment and impunity from prosecution in many countries, and other markers of the difference between government and the governed. It is now the most immaterial of goods, information, that is at stake. Governments collect it in all possible forms, requiring records of all bank transactions, credit card payments and airline reservations, ordering Microsoft and other companies to give them backdoor entries into software systems, tracking all phone and internet conversations, and making it illegal to protect your privacy by encrypting your correspondence or keeping your assets invisible.

The fury when the table is turned and when some people do to a government what it does to all of us (spying) is the great entertainment of these last days of 2010. And these could well be the first days of a new era.


1 comment:

  1. Talk about Double-standard, is it coincidental that China has imprisoned a Nobel Prize winning dissident, and the West is imprisoning a brave whistle-blower?