In an opinion column at the Korea Times, Arthur I. Cyr, a professor at Carthage College, discusses the importance of privacy rights:
“Big Brother Is Watching You” was the pervasive punch-line in British writer George Orwell’s classic novel “1984.” Now we know Big Brother is listening too.
Revelations that Rupert Murdoch’s News International Corp. for years has conducted massive hacking into British cell phone information is truly shocking. Alleged targets include cell phones of a murdered young girl and relatives of soldiers killed in action. Britain’s political parties have united in Parliament, an unusual move, to condemn the company.
The scandal includes allegations of police payoffs. An initial police investigation concluded the snooping was a renegade incident targeting only a few individuals. […]
Orwell, one of the greatest writers of the 20th century, was a committed socialist. Unlike many on the left, however, he had personal involvement with working people, because he was one. He stressed egalitarianism, while warning about the dangers of concentrated power in government as well as corporations.
The Murdoch snooping scandal is particularly grotesque, and may bring down that media empire. However, guarding individual freedom, including privacy, from intrusive power structures inevitably is a challenge.
Other developments in British politics and American business underscore this tension. Britain’s coalition government has wisely repealed a national identity card. A card microchip linked to biometric data encouraged bureaucratic snooping. Amid launch of the latest iPhone, Apple leader Steve Jobs gave particular emphasis to protecting customer privacy. […]
In our fascinating, fantastic global information revolution, institutions committed to following the law and protecting personal privacy, not just profits and power, deserve our support. Murdoch and crew deserve condemnation, and prosecution.