Sunday, 10 July 2011

R.I.P News of the Screws

So this week the news has been full of the News of the Screws phone hacking thing. I'm not overly sure that such misuse of the term "hacking" is appropriate — from my somewhat limited understanding it was merely a question of investigators using the default passcode to listen to a mobile phone users voice mail…?

Whether that deserves the application of the term "hacking" rather than simply being "sneaky" I'm not too sure, neither am I sure that the victims of the alleged hacking aren't overly sensible — surely if everyone was given the same pin when issued a debit/credit card they would take the first opportunity to change that there pin wouldn't they? Not 100% analagous but I think it's similar enough to bear consideration.

Anyway… so News International decided to sweeten things by closing down the News of the Screws early (what's the betting that the Sun on Sunday was going to be launched soon anyway — and what's the betting that it'll have a similar roll to the News of the World as well?), not least because they're trying to take over BSkyB and want to avoid any hint of scandal as well as show proper contrition.

That does leave us with something of a quandary about privacy though… not too long ago the news was full of super-injunctions — the method by which the rich and/or famous were able to keep their actions out of the press — and the furore that that evoked when made public. Now we've got allegations of investigators using underhand/sneaky methods of obtaining information which anyone else could obtain if they had a total dis-regard for the privacy of others and a morality bypass.

We've also got the promise that the coalition will launch an enquiry — does anyone else see the link here?

Admittedly I'm something of a conspiracy-theory aficionado but wouldn't it be interesting if we threw the baby out with the bath-water when the enquiry returns suggestions that privacy be upped a notch, thus doing away with the requirement for super-injunctions?

What if, by our own carelessness, we ushered in stricter privacy laws in order to protect those of us who're too trusting or not technically savvy enough to change their pin?

I don't know about the legality of the phone "hacking", though I suspect it isn't particularly legal, but I do know that the next time our Dear Leader has a meeting with — just as a for-instance — Rupert Murdoch or — another for-instance — Rebekah Brooks then I'd like to be told! I dare say though, that in the future such reporting might be considered illegal and we'd all be the poorer for it being so.

I'm not defending the News of the Screws (though I did sort of enjoy reading it on a night-shift) but I am wary about what this might lead to — if anything I really, really don't want legislation to be created as a result, rather I'd like less legislation. I'd like people to be a little more aware of their responsibilities in regards to their own security. I'd really, really like News International to lose all investment and market share — I for one am thinking of boycotting anything which advertises in those outlets, I'd suggest that others do as well, I just need a register of who advertises with them now…? (Just hope it's not Tesco or I'll starve!)

Buying anything from News International is something I'll also avoid now! Thankfully I don't buy a paper but what else do they do?