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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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The Aussie Government is mental

6 December 2018

According to the media, the Australian government look set to pass its law baning unbreakable end-to-end encryption before Christmas.

This law will empower the country's police and security agencies to demand that companies decrypt on demand, the content of any messages they carry.

Apparently, this power is absolutely essential if Australia is to effectively foil terrorist attacks. Sound familiar?

Yes, "the war against terror" is yet again being rolled out as an excuse to strip people of one of the most basic human rights -- the right to privacy.

If an individual displayed the level of paranoia that the Australian government is showing right now, they'd be locked up for their own safety and likely given an array of mind-altering drugs in an attempt to bring them back to reality.

Of course when you're the government, you don't have to worry about things like that -- because... you're the government!

But really, what are the Ocker politicians going to do when companies like WhatsApp and other providers of messaging services that deliver end-to-end encryption simply say "sorry, can't help you"?

I have no doubt that they'll threaten to ban the use of such services in Ockerland -- completely unaware that banning stuff simply doesn't work in cyberspace.

Perhaps they'll demand geofencing by these companies, so that those on Aussie soil can't use the evil secret-hiding software and services they offer. Maybe someone ought to tell these marsupials in suits that VPNs will not only sidestep such geofences but also add an extra layer of tough encryption at the same time.

Or perhaps the providers of these services will simply say "okay, we won't provide service to Australians" and the average Aussie will find themselves stripped of another human right in the name of safety.

I shudder to think of the implications if each and every piece of encrypted communication sent to, from or within Australia was open to the snooping eyes of the state. I mean, until such time as you can guarantee that every single person in the state's employ is 100% trustworthy, you're simply opening the door to even more graft and corruption. And, looking at the number of deaths resulting from underworld criminal activity versus that from true terror attacks on Aussie soil, I'd say they're going to create more harm than good with this lunatic law.

So maybe it's time that all governments had to pass a mental health check each year.

They should be examined by a suitably qualified international panel of psychiatrists and mental health experts who look for signs of unreasonable paranoia, delusions of grandeur, schizophrenia and other conditions that, in a regular person, would require intervention and intensive treatment -- lest they become a danger to the public.

It seems that we have too many "crazy" governments around the world whose behaviour takes a huge toll in human misery and death. What's more, a great many of those "crazy" governments are in control of first-world nations from the Western Hemisphere.

How else do you explain the way that so many countries are sailing head-long into climate apocalypse without doing anything tangible to try and avert the inevitable crisis? Whether you believe in AGW or not, you must agree that we need to take measures to try and mitigate the effects of climate change, no matter what the cause -- yet we have nut-jobs like Trump who simply dismiss that we're even seeing change in the climate.

No, I'm sorry... it's time we start holding governments to account and make them prove they remain qualified (by way of their mental health) before we continue to vest such power in them.

Is this a crazy idea? Or are we simply seeing too many actions that, in the case of an individual, would be grave cause for concern?

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