Monday, September 04, 2006

"If You're Not a Criminal, You've Got Nothing to Fear"

As you may know, for the last few years, most countries have slowly moved towards increased surveillance of its citizens, with the official reason being "the war on terror" or fighting drug trafficking or whatever. Britain have arguably been worst,but this have happened to some extent just about everywhere in the Western world. That have made those of us who distrust government somewhat uneasy, but we have always been dismissed using the argument "If you're not a Criminal,you've got nothing to fear". Here in Sweden, the Social Democratic Party -along with the Liberal Party- and Justice Minister Thomas Bodström have been the most enthusiastic supporters of this trend.

It is in this context that the revelation that a leading member (Press secretary Per Jodenius according to Dagens Nyheter) of the Liberal Party Youth Group in Sweden have somehow managed to illegally enter the internal database of the Social Democrats and then -the Social Democrats claim, but this is not yet proven- passed on the information to the Liberal Party leadership who have then used the info to for example time various announcements in some issues at the same date as the Social Democrats almost appears as a form of poetic justice.

Don't get me wrong. I certainly think the act of breaking into someone's computer or database without their permission is very wrong (I sure would be very angry if someone did it to me) and anyone who does it should be punished.

But, if it were really true, as the Social Democrats and other advocates of increased surveillance says, that if you're not a criminal then you've got nothing to fear from it, then why should the Social Democrats be upset now over this incident? Since, as far as we can tell, they didn't do anything illegal, what do they have to fear?

The truth is that there are a lot of things about which aren't illegal, but which we nevertheless don't want other people to know about. It could be say -as in this case- the internal strategy of a corporation or a party or some other organization, it could be that we are seeing someone we don't want other acquintances to know we're seeing, it could be that we're reading something we don't want others to know about etc. etc.

This case is a perfect example of this. While I do not really defend this act, I can't help to feel that it is a case of poetic justice given how the Social Democrats have always dismissed concerns about reduced privacy.


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