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Glurp
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Topic # 160604 13-Jan-2015 10:23
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In the wake of the tragedies in Sydney and Paris, Australia is apparently in the process of implementing new policies in regard to metadata collection and other procedures aimed at protecting against terrorism but also having the effect of compromising civil liberties. I don’t know what, if any, comparable measures are underway in New Zealand, but it is reasonable to assume that something similar will also occur here if it is not already in the works.

 



 

As most Geekzone users are technically sophisticated, and have a better than average understanding of what intelligence gathering and data retention actually means and how far it can go, I am curious to know how they feel about these developments. Is this necessary? Is it desirable? Is it inevitable in the face of determined fanaticism?

 



 

At the same time, what limits, if any, should be placed on free speech? I keep seeing commentaries about how this is an essential part of our democracy and the importance of the fourth estate, but then today someone on Sky News pointed out that the French magazine Charlie Hebbo that everyone is now claiming to support, would have been immediately closed down if an attempt to publish it in Australia had been made. I assume the same is true for New Zealand. There is little political satire in this country, especially the kind of biting bad taste satire published in Charlie, and making fun of religion or other sacred cows is apparently also out of bounds. By Continental standards we are bland to the point of terminal boredom and heavy-handed censorship makes sure our precious kiddies are insulted from anything that smacks of sex or controversial ideas, though unrestrained violence seems to be okay.

 



 

So where should the limits lie? I believe some things, like racism, should be prohibited by law because it has been shown that they do real damage and can lead to extremes like the Holocaust and ethnic cleansing. I don’t think simple bad taste should be banned, or making fun of political figures, which has a long and noble tradition, at least outside New Zealand, or even poking fun at religion. People, especially in this country, should not be so easily offended, but if they are, they can reply in kind. Write an impassioned letter, or draw a funny cartoon, or organise a demonstration. That is what free speech is supposed to be about.

 

 

 





I reject your reality and substitute my own. - Adam Savage
 


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  Reply # 1213092 13-Jan-2015 12:02
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There are many threads already about this topic, with true believers on both sides. For myself, I believe such warrantless bulk collection is dangerous for several reasons. For one thing, it doesn't, and cannot, work. High school level probability maths tells you that even if your automatic algorithm is 99.9% effective (which is incredibly far better than anything you could expect in the real world) then the false positive rate is going to have the police chasing up tens of thousands of completely innocent people, which is a waste of time and resource, and a distraction from watching the real bad guys. Secondly, most of the bad guys who have actually managed to pull something off were already well known to security agencies before their crimes. If we can't prevent known bad guys from committing acts of terror, why would we think that automated trawling of everyone's communications would help? 

The list of bad guys already known to authorities includes, but is not limited to:

 

  • The 9/11 terrorists, known to the CIA and the FBI
  • The underpants bomber (father warned the FBI he was about to do something)
  • The Boston marathon bombers (Russian FSB warned the FBI about them)
  • The recent Sydney gunman, out on bail for numerous violent and/or sexual offences
  • The recent French killers, one of whom was previously jailed for terrorism
And thirdly, even if you think you can trust the current government completely (and you can't, as documented in many places, unauthorised access is a fact) who knows who will be in power after the next election? Or in ten years? The most evil governments of the last century were originally the people's heroes.




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