Monday, October 27, 2008

If you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear

The New Zealand Police catch on quick. Given the report that the UK government is looking to ban anonymous prepaid cellphone accounts, they are looking to do the same thing Justify Fullaccording to the Dominion Post.

Yes, a government mandated national database of everyone using cellphones. Although it is remarkable that there isn't one to require everyone using internet messaging services to display IP addresses, or indeed one to require everyone with a PC to be registered, or every letter. How have the Police coped? As I said before, in communist Romania the Securitate required all typewriters to be licensed. In the former East Germany, the Stasi kept meticulous notes on everything suspects did, down to the minute. The film The Lives of Others, gives a chilling insight into this.

Of course, Detective Senior Sergeant Darrin Thomson has the classic response to those who might query it:

"I certainly don't think that this is a system to be implemented that would be abused - it's no different from you and I having a landline. People who are going about their lawful business, which is a great majority of the community, have got nothing to worry about".

Which of course is how the Police will justify any intrusion into your privacy. After all, you could let the Police search your home without warrant under that basis, open all your mail, tap your phone calls, read your emails.

Why fear the state?

The Police say it is no different from having a landline after all - except that the phone company HAS to know where you are since you are connecting fixed infrastructure. This is different. This is the state demanding that there be no anonymity when you do something that 9 times out of 10 is innocuous.

Of course criminals will all be caught through this. After all, none would use false or temporary addresses. This couldn't possibly increase the attractiveness of stealing phones. No. In fact, it wont cause a run on prepaid phones now will it? Then a legal market in prepaid SIM cards. No, the Police are totally switched onto this.

However, this is hardly surprising. Only an idiot or someone blind to history about police states would let the Police determine public policy. However, both Vodafone and Telecom are quite happy to do so, which begs the question, why the hell aren't you doing it now? If it makes sense to you, do it, don't want for the state to make you. Maybe it's because enough people WANT anonymity, maybe people want to be able to share a cellphone and as long as someone pays, who cares?

So people, which political party will oppose this? Labour? Hardly, it greatly enhanced the laws on telecommunications interception this term. National? Likewise, it is all about the war on crime - National has never been a secure believer in civil liberties. ACT? Well it is about zero tolerance as well now, but I'd like ACT to state its position - clearly. Given Australia already requires ID for purchasing cellphones, I'm not hopeful. The rest? Well United Future who knows, NZ First will happily go along with this, the Maori Party and the Greens will oppose it, because they fear their violence loving mates being caught.

So, which MP or candidate is the first who is going to trot out the Orwellian title to this post as the justification for this extra inch of Police state?

1 comment:

ZenTiger said...

I don't think most of the public get this. The recent issue of forcing people to fill out the additional census data, on pain of huge fine, was another like minded issue (and I recall you blogged that one too).

Re the census, it would be really cool if, being forced to fill out the census, that the people asking you to fill it out, their supervisors, right to the top level and the judge that would find you guilty if you chose not to, had to complete the same questions.

Then all parties read each others answers (to put you all on an equal footing of course, since they are mandating something that they would therefore be prepared to do), exchange envelopes and you promise that all their envelopes will be protected to the reasonable endeavors until such time that their own guarantee fails.