Friday, July 15, 2011

Privacy and liberty revisited

Gratifying to read so many articles for so many days referring to the 'scandal now engulfing' News International. The closure of the News of the World looks like what some called it at the time - an act of desperation. I've nothing particular to add to what has already been said but I have been struck by what has not been said, which is that invading privacy is no big deal or indeed that privacy doesn't really exist in the modern world.

Because this was the line from some on the left when it was HM Government that was doing the snooping. Here's two articles from that ilk, which I distinctly recall being linked in an approving way in various quarters.

Rafael Behr made the absurd argument that since we invade our own privacy all the time, it cannot have any real value to us.

Connor Gearty took a similar line with a couple of rather unpleasant add-ons, which included the ad hominem notion that only posh people trying to protect privilege could possibly be concerned with such bourgeois and passé notions like privacy.

I took issue with these nasty and ahistorical articles at the time but I'm wondering if they are still prepared to repeat this 'fetishizing of liberty' cant or be so dismissive of privacy when it News International rather than a 'progressive' Government that has been doing the spying?

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