At two privacy conferences—one in New York, the other right now in Victoria, B.C.—I’ve watched the growth of privacy’s regulatory/industrial complex and seen its strategy in action: scare, then sell.
Yesterday, before I spoke at the Reboot conference, the privacy commissioner for the province, Elizabeth Denham, got up to demonize the social net and its leaders. She said that Google’s Eric Schmidt believes privacy is not relevant anymore, citing his jokesabout changing our names at age 21. She belittled Mark Zuckerberg, too. She bragged about helping to bring Facebook to accounts when she was in the federal privacy office. And she gloated about the fizzle of Google Buzz. Then she boasted about adding more regulators to her office and getting more resources. Scare and spend.
. . . and . . .
from guardian.co.uk | TheObserver
In January 2008, someone uploaded to WikiLeaks a cache of documents, including hundreds of pages of internal correspondence of a major Swiss bank, Julius Baer. On closer inspection, the cache appeared to show that large amounts of money – sums ranging from $5m to $100m per person – were being, er, shielded in the Cayman Islands from tax authorities in various jurisdictions.
It was all, of course, perfectly legal: wealthy people put capital into trusts based in the Cayman Islands. This allows them lawfully to avoid paying tax on profits from investments, because legally those profits belong to the trust which, as a Cayman “resident”, itself pays no tax. But the trustees can distribute money to the trust’s beneficiaries, who may be residents of the UK and indeed, for all I know, pillars of society or even members of the Tory party.
Legal it may be, but mostly these folks don’t like knowledge of their ingenious wheezes to enter the public domain. It’s so vulgar, don’t you know. And the banks that handle their money like it even less. So Julius Baer went apeshit about the leaks. Its lawyers persuaded a judge in California to shut down wikileaks.org and that, it thought, was that.
You can guess what happened. In no time at all, mirrors of the WikiLeaks site popped up everywhere. The First Amendment crowd in the US started taking an interest. Suddenly, the whole world knew about Julius Baer’s wealth-management services. The California judge had second thoughts, wikileaks.org was restored and CBS News reported the decision under the headline “Free speech has a number: 184.108.40.206” – the IP address of the WikiLeaks site. And a major Swiss bank retired to lick its wounds.