The importance of privacy and its abuse

This article by David Brooks is discussing the pros and cons of cameras on police. However, as part of this discussion, David shares some important insights into the nature of privacy:

Privacy is important to the development of full individuals because there has to be an interior zone within each person that other people don’t see. There has to be a zone where half-formed thoughts and delicate emotions can grow and evolve, without being exposed to the harsh glare of public judgment. There has to be a place where you can be free to develop ideas and convictions away from the pressure to conform. There has to be a spot where you are only yourself and can define yourself.

Privacy is important to families and friendships because there has to be a zone where you can be fully known. There has to be a private space where you can share your doubts and secrets and expose your weaknesses with the expectation that you will still be loved and forgiven and supported.

Privacy is important for communities because there has to be a space where people with common affiliations can develop bonds of affection and trust. There has to be a boundary between us and them. Within that boundary, you look out for each other; you rally to support each other; you cut each other some slack; you share fierce common loyalties.

All these concentric circles of privacy depend on some level of shrouding. They depend on some level of secrecy and awareness of the distinction between the inner privileged space and the outer exposed space. They depend on the understanding that what happens between us stays between us.

End of quote.

In many, many ways, privacy and the right to that privacy are being eroded. Indeed, the regime of detailed surveillance that we live in today is in part about seeking to destroy this privacy and the right to that privacy. And with time, just as foretold in “The Minority Report”, this tracking will be used to weed out those who show any signs of not behaving as the state specifies.

The rollout of pre-crime action against the public is progressing well. Expect it to accelerate and expect its scope to expand. Today, it’s seen to be intercepting supposed terrorists, carefully blown out of proportion by the media or the police or both.

For example, a 17yo kid in Melbourne was arrested recently for reportedly planning a Mother’s Day “terrorist act”. I quote:

A 17-year-old teenager was remanded in custody on Monday after facing a children’s court in Melbourne on unspecified charges of “engaging in an act in preparation for, or planning, a terrorist act” and “possessing things connected with a terrorist act.”…

…Last weekend, federal and state police chiefs claimed to have foiled a bombing, just in time, that would definitely have killed people. “As a result of Victoria Police and Australian Federal Police [AFP] interception, some Victorians are going to be alive because of it,” AFP Deputy Commissioner Mike Phelan told a media conference.

End of quote.

Seems clear enough, you might think. But the above article goes on to say:

Ending any hopes of the teenager receiving a fair trial, Prime Minister Tony Abbott seized on the raids to launch another terrorism scare campaign. “There is evidence of a bomb plot that was in a reasonably advanced state of preparation,” he declared last Saturday.

However, by the time that the 17-year-old, who cannot be named because he is a minor, appeared in court on Monday, the police had admitted they had no evidence of any attack planned for May 10, or any other specific date. Nor could they nominate a supposed targeted location.

The police also revealed that no other arrests had been made, and they were not investigating any other suspect. No connection was alleged to the 14-year-old reportedly detained in Sydney.

AFP Deputy Commissioner Phelan stated: “We may not know exactly where it was going to occur nor when it was exactly going to occur, but … let me tell you, something was going to happen.”

Victoria Police Acting Chief Commissioner Cartwright said there was no evidence the teenager planned on attacking a specific event. Nevertheless, the police chief sought to continue the atmosphere of crisis. “We will allege he was well advanced in preparing a bomb,” he maintained.

This claim contradicted the earlier police accounts of detecting three “suspected improvised explosives devices” and detonating them in a local park. That operation, conducted by heavily-suited bomb disposal personnel, was designed to give the impression that bombs actually existed.

End of quote.

Now, I doubt this updated picture has made it to the mainstream press, but the result has been achieved. Another piece of well-crafted terrorist scare-mongering and a piece of pre-crime action.

Expect more of both of these kinds of occurrences.

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