Wednesday, 30 July 2014
By Kris Sayce
‘For the life of me I cannot understand why it is correct for all your privacy to be invaded for a commercial purpose, and not for me to save your life.’
ASIO chief David Irvine
‘[I’d] rather be alive and lack privacy than dead with my privacy intact.’
Liberal senator Ian MacDonald
I’ve taken both of those quotes from an article in today’s Sydney Morning Herald.
They’re a terrific example of bureaucratic tyranny…
Public servants are an odd breed. And yes, I mean all public servants. That includes doctors, nurses, police, as well as the pen-pushers in Canberra.
They have an over-inflated view of their own importance to the public.
I see examples of their arrogance almost every day. Who hasn’t seen the bumper sticks that claim I can’t live without nurses? Really, I don’t know about you, but I’ve done pretty well without seeing a nurse.
In fact, I can’t remember the last time I saw a nurse. It must be over 30 years ago. Even then I doubt if it was a life-or-death situation. So, based on my experience, I can live without nurses.
I’d find it much harder to live without supermarkets, petrol stations, internet service providers, electricity and gas companies, food producers, and more. Funnily enough, pretty much everything provided by the private sector.
As for the public sector, well, I can do without that.
It’s a similar story with Melbourne’s paramedics. At least once a week I’ll drive past one adorned with graffiti blasting the Victorian government for bad pay and conditions.
I’m not about to stick up for Dr Denis Napthine and his cronies, but I will stick up for the taxpayer. What the paramedics are really saying in their graffiti messages is that they want the government to rip more money from the pockets of the public just so the paramedics can get a pay rise.
This is the kind of attitude that seeps through the public service. Ironically, it’s the ‘entitlement’ mentality that governments rail against when they attack so-called dole bludgers.
The difference is that most ‘dole bludgers’ are on the dole involuntarily. By contrast, public servants have a bizarre desire to work for the government.
Used against you
This is the mentality you’ll find in the quotes at the top of this letter.
It’s the socialist idea that the State knows best…that it’s the role of the State to protect the idiot citizens from themselves.
It’s the idea that just because one group of people (public servants) choose to give their soul to the devil, that everyone else must do the same. And that if they won’t do it voluntarily then the government must force them to do it.
In this instance, the thing that the ASIO chief just can’t understand is why anyone would object to the government ordering internet providers to store personal data for two years.
The ASIO chief doesn’t think it fair that a private company can track your movements based on your internet movements, but it’s not OK for the government to do the same.
The reason for the difference should be obvious.
I’m sure you’ve seen the cops reading the accused their rights on TV shows. They’ll always warn that ‘Anything you say may be used against you.’
Notice how they phrase it. It doesn’t say ‘Anything you say me be used for or against you.’ No. Heaven forbid that the State ever gets anything wrong. The presumption of guilt begins right at that moment.
This is exactly why internet monitoring by the State is so dangerous. It presumes that you’re doing something wrong. That’s why they need to store your data. Only when they’re happy that you haven’t done something wrong can the internet provider delete the data.
The internal threat
Now, Senator MacDonald says he would rather be alive without privacy than be dead and maintain his privacy.
That’s fine. In a free society, he should have the right to that opinion and choice.
But surely in a free society, others should have the right to make the opposite choice — that freedom from State intrusion is more important that security.
Besides, it’s a silly argument by the senator. It assumes that privacy equals death. That’s ridiculous. I could easily argue that that the opposite is true if the Senator wants to go down that path.
I would argue that the lack of privacy is generally because a government worries that the people are up to something. So it begins to impose restrictions on them, and in the worst cases, imprison and murder them.
So in general, the biggest threat to the people isn’t an external threat; it’s an internal threat from the busybody bureaucrats who see it as their job to control what people do.
But what about private companies tracking and monitoring you? Isn’t that just as bad as the government doing the same thing?
No. Here’s why…
Private firms can snoop all they like
I’ve made this argument before. It’s quite simple.
The only time to fear the invasion of privacy by the private sector is when the private sector seeks to do you harm or where the private sector hands your private data to the government.
In the case of the former, it’s highly unlikely that a genuine private sector firm would seek to harm a potential customer.
There’s no benefit to the firm doing that.
In fact, when a private sector firm ‘invades’ your privacy it’s most often because the firm wants to help you. It’s helping you to find a product or service that you may want based on your search and browsing history.
You’ve probably noticed this. Admittedly, it’s not always as useful as you’d like. You may search for one thing on a whim — say, a new car — and then seemingly forever you see ads for new cars…even though you may have ruled out buying a new car.
How does that harm anyone? It doesn’t. Private companies can snoop on me all they like if it means I’ll get to see ads for things I want, rather than the random and irrelevant ads offered by other media such as TV and radio.
But the most important thing is that it’s voluntary. No one forces you to buy private sector products (exceptions are, of course, products such as health insurance, which isn’t really the private sector, it’s more of a semi-government industry).
That’s the difference between the peaceful and beneficial private sector and the violent and wasteful State.
When the State claims that it’s doing something to help and protect you, really it’s doing it to help and protect those in power. It almost always results in more power for them and less freedom for you.
PS: If you’re sick of government intrusion, you may want to check out some of the solutions offered by my old pal Simon Munton over at International Living Australia. He and his contacts have established an international network that helps people find ways to get away from government meddling by setting up home overseas. You can check out some of Simon’s work here.