Thursday, August 08, 2013

People should try to understand before they start preaching

In all the fuss about young Mr Snowden, there are a lot of people opining on the matter who don't seem to understand the concept of "spy agency".

Anyway, there is now a self-selected bunch of more-or-less professional interferers who have come up with what they proudly declare to be the:

International Principles on the Application of Human Rights to Communications Surveillance

Well, this is all to the well and good but it doesn't actually hold a vast amount of water. A couple of particular niggles from the many, selected, in this case, from the overtly praise-worthy "Legitimate Aim"* principle:

Laws should only permit communications surveillance by specified State authorities to achieve a legitimate aim that corresponds to a predominantly important legal interest that is necessary in a democratic society.

Well, of course, seems reasonable. Except, perhaps, for its applicability (or otherwise) in those societies around the world that aren't democratic?

Any measure must not be applied in a manner which discriminates on the basis of race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.

Right. Seriously? No spy agency in the world should select targets because of their nationality or political opinions? If people want to make a constructive contribution to the debate, it is well worth actually trying to express yourself in such a way that you don't get laughed at by the core participants. I think the sort of contribution these worthies are having might be best described by that pithy Americanism "circle-jerk".

* Well, you wouldn't be too happy about a government agency having an "illegitimate aim", would you?
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