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Famous Last Words
There's always been a good reason in retrospect.
We mean well! We're not going to misuse this information! There's no reason to be apprehensive! You can feel secure!
Blah-blah. The next time you get your knickers in a twist because some civil rights group go berserk about a perceived transgression of human rights remember this.
It's not about misuse of data. It's never been about misuse of data. It's about the data being there in the first place.
Right now there are voices - from the US mostly - performing logical gymnastics, claiming one is a lot safer in the US than in Sweden.
Bullshit alert. No one is safe today.
Sir Tim Berners-Lee could have made the World Wide Web a commercial product. He could have been obscenely rich today. But he chose to make the web free instead. But had anybody understood back in the beginning of the 1990s how this Internet and web thing would be used to control people?
George Orwell's 1984 didn't have these possibilities.
The naysayers are basically doing the same skip and jump they always do. They certainly have the excuses. Terrorism. Sweden's had terrorist cells. And thank goodness the authorities have been able to uncover them. Both France and the UK have had a lot of trouble with terrorists. They have a reason to want to use better surveillance - to protect their people.
But isn't it going to be ironic if these people end up ending democracy in the world we know?
Take the mere fact the Swedish FRA are collating source and destination on correspondence of all kinds. Or the mere fact Fort Meade in the US are doing the same thing. Now use your imagination to figure out how many different ways you can sift this data - and how many juicy things you can reveal.
And ask yourself why these authorities would ever want to retain the data if there wasn't something substantial - compromising - in it.
Can you really trust your government? Can you trust them to not misuse the data they're gathering on you right now? Are you certain? Can you also trust your next government?
The data won't disappear just because you get a new political party in power. Those are civilians gathering the data - not politicians. The data's still there and so are they.
At the end of the 1930s the government of the Netherlands began a census. One of the items on the their census questionnaire was harshly criticised: ethnic origin.
The Dutch government protested their innocence. Oh no! We'd never use that against you! We mean well! We're not going to misuse this information! There's no reason to be apprehensive! You can feel secure!
And they didn't misuse it - but a few years later the Nazis rolled into town and they did!
So the next time you hear someone complain the civil rights fanatics are getting too worked up: remind them of what Thomas Jefferson said.
'All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.'
The next time: remember Anneliese Frank.
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