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Word of the day: disingenuous 23 October 2003 Edition
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As of today, all your secrets now belong to the government and storing them on your computer using hard-encryption might just get you into really big trouble.

But "don't worry," we're told. It's all being done in our own best interests because we're surrounded and infiltrated by terrorists bent on our destruction.

If you believed the excuses for this legislation you'd be thinking that unless the government had given itself the power to extract our DNA and passwords under duress, we'd likely all be blown to smithereens sometime in the near future by some nefarious terrorist.

But hang on, it seems that some aspects of this "Counter-Terrorism Bill" not only apply to terrorist-related activities but even some crimes as comparatively minor as burglary.

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Yes, at last, this feature has been updated again! (31 Mar 2003)

Yes, if you're suspected (let me say that again SUSPECTED) of being involved in a burglary, the police can use this new legislation to force you to provide a DNA sample.

"Only those with something to hide have anything to fear."

Yes, that's the age-old cry of those who seek to extend the power they have over others. If we believed that trite phrase then we'd all be quite happy to allow our houses to be fitted with microphones and cameras that were monitored 24/7 by the SIS or police. After all, such surveillance would undoubtedly catch a few dullard criminals plotting crimes and the rest of us would have nothing to fear.

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Intelligent people know that these claims are nothing but hogwash.

Every man woman and child has something to fear each time their personal rights and freedoms are eroded in the name of some greater cause.

While our police and judiciary are generally of a very high quality and integrity, there are and will always be those who abuse the trust and power given to them.

Remember Arthur Allan Thomas? The innocent have nothing to fear eh?

Here's some worthwhile reading that we should all keep in the back of our minds when considering the merits of legislation that effectively takes even more power and rights from individuals and hands them to "the system":

And here's something that really confuses me.

As regular readers know, I'm building a cruise missile (more info over at my interesting projects website) to show the world, including NZ's defence and anti-terrorist forces, just how easily this could be done by any evil sod with a chip on their shoulder.

Back in July I submitted a formal request for some space in which to safely test that missile. Obviously, and despite the picture on the front page of the interesting projects site, the issue of safety has always been foremost in my mind and it would be reckless to test this thing in anything but well controlled conditions, far from person or property.

I had thought that, given its commitment to playing a part in the war against terrorism, that the government and/or the armed forces, would have jumped at the chance to participate or at least watch this potential threat being tested and evaluated.

But no -- I received a curt reply that carefully avoided addressing my request and instead answered a question I didn't ask. I simply wanted some assistance to create a safe test environment -- but the Mr Burton told me that the NZ defence forces didn't have the necessary resources to "certify" new weaponry.

Who the hell asked for certification? Not me! Nice move Mark, you dodged the ball like the true politician you are.

So what's going on here?

On the one hand the government is telling us that terrorism is such a huge threat we must give up some of our most important freedoms, yet when offered the opportunity to participate in a project that has gathered global attention and offers to demonstrate the true scale of a very real potential terrorist threat, they say they're not interested.

Does the word disingenuous seem applicable here when it comes to the government's justifications for these new laws?

Of course this apparent hypocrisy is about to be plastered across the world's media as I continue to field several calls a week from globally syndicated news organisations. There are currently quite sizeable contingents of such media already gearing up to come visit and see what I've been up to. It seems that even if our government is totally uninterested in determining the risk potential of home-made cruise missiles, the rest of the world is very keen to find out how dangerous they really are.

I guess our friends in Parliament will just have to watch CNN to find out.

If any Aardvark readers want to share an opinion on today's column or add something, you're invited to chip in and have your say in The Aardvark Forums or, if you prefer, you can contact me directly.

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Security Alerts
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CERT Issues Warning for OpenSSH Flaw (AtNY - 17/09/2003)

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