Why you should not let the Government have your data…just ask the CIA

There are many reasons not to let the government collect every email, tape every phone call, and monitor every website you visit, from the simple invasion of privacy, to the fact the that government lose data more often then the English football team miss penalties.

One of the reasons that you should not want the government to have a complete break down of your activities, is that goverments change.  You may trust your current government, you may have voted for them, belived in their policies, and even donated to them, so the notion that they record your activities would not be a problem because they are only looking out for your best interests.  

But what about when the government changes? What about if a government is elected that does not like you, your interests, your views, or your activities? When one adminstration leaves, and is replaced by another one, the previous one does not wipe all their files, delete their databases, or erase the recordings, but they hand them over to the incoming power.

  • 15 years ago who would have though that getting a copy of the anarchist cook book would have made you a terrorist?
  • 10 years ago, who would have though that being a train spotter, could get you arrested?
  • 5 years ago, who would have thought that your internet activity would be recorded and profiled by third party companies for profit
  • 3 years ago, who would have thought that the government would openly propose to centralise all communications data about eveyr person in the UK?

Laws change with governments, and what is or is not acceptable can change radically with a new administration. The most recent “victim” of this is the CIA. Under the Bush government the CIA happily set up black sites and torture sites. The CIA kidnapped people off the streets in the Europe, Asia, and the US, flew them to distant lands and tortured them, some of them were even guilty. The Bush government not only allowed this but encouraged it.

But, after 8 years of Bush in steps Obama, and everything changes, and these actions are not only banned, but dispised. This week memos and documentation relating to the CIA blacksite and torture programme have been released. This exposes the CIA agents to legal action, both within the US and the rest of the world. The CIA are outraged at this lack of privacy, that their details have been misused. One could argue the Nurembourg defence didn’t work 60 years ago, and will not work now.

No doubt the Jews in the 1920’s did not think that registering as a Jew in Germany, Austria, or Poland could ever have any negative effect.  Then came the yellow stars; its a long way from recording information to labelling people, but its even a bigger jump from labelling people to death camps, but, still it happened.

This example, though extreme, demonstrates very vivdly, what happens when governements change. Both your livelihood and life can be put at risk, if they have enough data against you, no matter how innocent you are.

Fortunately there has only ever been one incident of a government collecting social and demographic information on people, and using it torture and slaughter them on a huge level, and that was in Germany in the 1930s and 40s.  This would never happen again…..except for in the following countries

Cambodia, Yugoslavia, Russia, Iraq, East Timor, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, South Africa, Rawanda, Sudan, Sierra Leon….In fact finding a continent or decade when this has not happened is almost impossible.

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One Response to “Why you should not let the Government have your data…just ask the CIA”

  1. Data Theft: Parliment « Data – Where is it? Says:

    […] data about MPs is leaked, this once again reminds us why too much data about you, stored about the government, even if its technically legal (most expenses are “within the rules”) is not a good […]


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