Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Does privacy equals freedom (and if not why not) ?

I am not a privacy freak. Anyone looking through my garbage, my emails or even my windows will yield little scandal or titillation. Wife plays with phone. Boy plays with phone. Girl crafts tiny little cute things too small to admire without glasses. All wear clothes. Dad yells at kids cause he can't find his glasses Dad has a nap.

What did you expect from a middle-aged father in the suburbs - cooking meth, or training to be a super-powered vigilante?

I have tended to lean towards the 'nothing to hide, nothing to fear' argument to explain why I don't jump up and down about the potential for surveillance of my family and myself in this country at this time. Too old for the wild stuff - too young for the really kinky stuff. Get your thrills elsewhere folks.

Then in chimes in Edward Snowden,

"Arguing that you don't care about the right to privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different than saying you don't care about free speech because you have nothing to say."


Now as a libertarian I am very concerned about free speech, Ed, I just don't like that you invented a right – the fabled Right to Privacy. And how's the weather in Gulagostok by the way?

In Australia we have no Bill of Rights so no specific right to privacy or anything else for that matter. We have only the laws of the land – and with regard to privacy they are not as strong as many Australians believe. Most of the existing laws deal with workplace surveillance and what can, and cannot, be published.

Even in America citizens do not enjoy privacy as a constitutional right. US citizens must rely on good old laws like we do that mostly protect them from bad publicity, identity theft and unwanted door-knockers

As far as I know – there is no such thing in this world as an absolute constitutional Right to Privacy. And if there is - it's probably in a third world bastion of freedom like Zimbabwe or Myanmar.

There is a popular notion of the Snowden generation that privacy equals freedom. The idea being that the less "they" know about what you are doing the less likely "they" are to stop you from doing it, or publicise what you are doing .

Possesion of cannabis is illegal in here NSW. Police could access your metadata and find that you bought a herbal vaporizer online. You also watched on Youtube a video about making cannabis extracts. Or the old fashioned way - your bank statements show a purchase at Harry's Happy Headshop with your identity confirmed by CCTV footage taken in the street and the card you used to pay for parking. Either way they could put two and two together and come around with a warrant to search your home knowing that they will find some pot and have sufficient evidence to prove that it is yours. Even if you are not charged or convicted, being outed as a pot smoker could cost you your job if you are, say, a cop or a lawyer.

So who will protect us if we have no rights?

Ask anyone in politics or the media and the answer will be the same. We need laws. The government needs to enact legislation at both the state and federal level to protect the rights of Australian citizens blah blah.

No. You cannot protect rights that don't exist. You cannot legislate your way to freedom. Laws do not make you free.

A true libertarian finds fault not so much in the aforementioned invasion of privacy as in the prohibition of a particular harmless herb. Or that police could get such a warrant (unlikely), or that they would want to (very unlikely).

Libertarians say cut out the middleman - just abolish the laws that make cannabis use illegal so we won't need laws to cover up it's widespread use.

Privacy does not equal freedom - it's just a workaround. It is making new laws to protect us from old ones. We end up with more laws which equals less freedom.

There are of course other ways an invasion of privacy could trip you up. Think Ashley Madison, Hilary Clinton, Shane Warne, Donald Trump. Think porn and how you might feel to find someone was looking over your shoulder and taking notes while you watched it.

Once again it's the libertarian freedom riders to the rescue. “Damn straight I'm looking at schoolgirl amputee porn - I'm a libertarian blogger and a member of the Sex Party for christ sake. And no that's not a bloody bong – it's an aromatherapy device, you idiot. Now get off my lawn.”

Infidelity, sexual preferences, medical history, dick pics, there a so any things that could shame us.

So don't be ashamed. Be an adult (adults don't do dick pics). Take responsibility for your actions and accept there may be consequences. Teach your children to do the same. Do anything but support the creation of laws that will take away your freedom.

Don't run. Don't hide. Because remember - you are free.