Written By: - Date published: 4:17 pm, October 28th, 2015 - 36 comments
Categories: Abuse of power, Dirty Politics, human rights, journalism, police, Spying - Tags: authoritarianism, nicky hager, privacy, surveillance, westpac
The reaction to Westpac handing over Nicky Hager’s data to police is still playing out. Dita de Boni writes:
Privacy right is not a right when not ‘right’
I don’t know about you, but in my life I seem to recall hearing numerous times that all sorts of information cannot be given to me “for privacy reasons”.
Whether it be information about our household digital television account, or my child’s ear infection medication, or a text message, say, sent by a Prime Minister to a highly prominent sportsman or blogger, “privacy” is often the reason trotted out for stonewalling.
It seems the main reason a journalist – or even a citizen – is denied ‘official’ information much of the time is either that releasing it is going to unleash a torrent of (metaphorical) excrement, or getting the information you’re after would be a pain in the posterior for the person being asked for it.
The exception to this is if the police are asking. It now seems as though certain institutions are more than happy to hand over incredibly personal financial and other information if the plod request it, even if they’ve skipped the part where they’re supposed to get the proper legal documentation to do so. Some institutions actually wait for a formal, legitimate request before complying with police fishing expeditions. Others, notably Westpac Bank, do not.
It now emerges Nicky Hager has complained to the Privacy Commissioner about what’s happened and also wants a ‘full and frank’ disclosure from Westpac.
It will be more than anyone else has had. Westpac say they won’t comment on what they do with customer information because it’s an ‘internal policy’.
Again, you may think Nicky Hager deserved the treatment he’s had. You may not agree with him in general. But remember that whatever treatment’s been handed out to him can be handed out to anyone with the ‘wrong’ connections, the ‘wrong’ information, and the ‘wrong’ intentions.
Privacy increasingly seems to be only your right if you are on the ‘right’ side.
Rob Hosking (let out from behind the paywall) is similarly forthright:
Hager, toadying and the ‘company policy’ copout
There are many troubling aspects to the revelations activist author Nicky Hager had his personal financial details handed over to the Police, without so much as a by your leave, by Westpac Bank.
This whole business should disturb anyone who believes in governments maintaining a certain restraint. This goes to the core of liberal-conservative political philosophy. Governments have to justify themselves to citizens – not the other way around.
There is, as noted here many times over the past couple of years, a creeping authoritarianism from the current government – and, in fact, across the political culture, with government support partner the Maori Party, as well as Labour and Green parties, moving in more authoritarian directions.
It is about, in the end, free citizens versus over-reaching, arrogant officialdom.
“A creeping authoritarianism from the current government”. Yes, yes there is.