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New Zealand's longest-running online daily news and commentary publication, now in its 25th year. The opinion pieces presented here are not purported to be fact but reasonable effort is made to ensure accuracy.

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You have no right to privacy

1 Feb 2024

For a long time now, I have been warning people that the concept of people having a right to privacy is headed for the history books.

Increasingly, the privacy of the individual is considered to be a threat to "the powers that be" and the incrementally wider wedge that has been stripping us of our rights has been thrust, ever deeper, between our buttocks.

To this end, there has been something of a technology war going on, where tech is being used to both protect and violate our right to privacy.

Now governments around the world seem hell-bent on outlawing one side of that battle -- our right to use tech to protect our personal secrets and most private opinions.

This BBC story is a perfect example of what I'm talking about.

The UK government wants to stop tech companies such as Apple from including technology that protects their customers' privacy. The politicians want to demand that any and all new tech that allows people to keep their secrets to themselves be subject to "approval" by the government before it is rolled out.

I love this weasel-words quote from the BBC story:

"The Home Office said it supported privacy-focused tech but added that it also had to keep the country safe"

Oh yes... that's right, the politicians are rolling out that old chestnut "national security".

I mean, nobody can kick up a stink about the government knowing your every secret and being privy to the most intimate details of your life -- if it's all done in the name of keeping the nation safe and secure, right?

In this case I wholeheartedly agree with Apple when they describe these plans as an "unprecedented overreach".

Yet again (I've lost count) we have another situation where the prophetic novel "1984" seems to be coming to life before our very eyes.

To take our right to privacy away is to dehumanise us in a totally unacceptable manner.

It's also nothing more than paranoia and a power-grab by those who we elect to serve us, not to spy on us.

If politicians are so opposed to the concept of privacy then I call on all of them to have webcams installed in their bedrooms and streamed live to the voters whose favour they seek every three years. If our elected officials have nothing to hide then they have nothing to fear from such close scrutiny -- or is this just more hypocrisy from those who so often live by the mantra "do as we say, not as we do"?

As human beings we must have the inalienable right to privacy and this is not something that ought to be usurped by an act of parliament.

What's next -- will the writing of letters be banned? Will all future written communications have to be performed by way of postcards, so that agents of the state can check every word for possible risk to the safety of the nation?

When a government distrusts its people to the extent that they feel it essential to eliminate privacy for "safety" reasons then it is time that government was replaced with one that did not consider those it serves to be its enemy.

And to those (mainly young folk) who seem unconcerned about the loss of their right to privacy... you will never know what you've lost until it has been taken from you and then it will be too late.

Carpe Diem folks!

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