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Iran and the west





Bikerman
I have just watched the second of a series of 3 on the BBC about Iran and the west. Personally I have found it absorbing and I would like to recommend it to others.
The first episode is now available on the BBC 'watch again'. The one I just watched will be available in a few days. I'm not sure if the 'watch again' link will work in all countries but I provide it in hope Smile
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00htnkq
deanhills
Thanks Chris. I just tried all the links, and they all came up with that the Video can only be watched in the UK. Darn ..... Smile
ThePolemistis
Bikerman wrote:
I have just watched the second of a series of 3 on the BBC about Iran and the west. Personally I have found it absorbing and I would like to recommend it to others.
The first episode is now available on the BBC 'watch again'. The one I just watched will be available in a few days. I'm not sure if the 'watch again' link will work in all countries but I provide it in hope Smile
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00htnkq


I watched it, it was quite good I found.
Would have hoped it talked more about the 1979 hostage taking on the US embassy in Iran, and showing what the Americans were really guilty of (i.e. planning a coup). But thy likee to keep that quiet for some reason. Similarly, didn't really talk in depth on the Iran Contra affair other than a 10 second, if that, statement. Funny also how they refrained on discussing on how American got rid of Irans last true democracy in 1953, and refraining from blantantly saying that the shah was a puppet of the American occupation (instead using the words perceived or simialr words of that effect).
Biased slightly in favour of the West - but hey what do you expect?

And as a sidenote, in my opinion, Iran and Pakistan are able to stand on their own two feet thanks to the American sanctions Smile
deanhills
ThePolemistis wrote:
And as a sidenote, in my opinion, Iran and Pakistan are able to stand on their own two feet thanks to the American sanctions Smile


Good point. Sanctions tend to have that effect. What is that saying about what does not break you makes you stronger?

On the other hand. When I am talking to the people here in the Middle East who are resident in Pakistan, they are seriously worried. They feel Pakistan has been deteriorating at a tremendous pace since the increase of violence and departure of a great percentage of expats. Maybe like Lebanon. They are standing on their own feet, but standards are not the same, and maybe that is OK. Same in Iran. Most of their brainy people are working in North America in plum positions. It is not easy to find work in Iran. It is also not easy to live free in Iran. But then of course they do have a choice, which is at least the nice part of it. I personally would not want to live in Iran. People where I am have been on visits to large conferences, and it is not easy to get a Visa, and once you are in the country as an expat, your movements are very closely monitored.
yagnyavalkya
Yes the topic of Iran and the West sure is an interesting one
I will be watching the said documentary
thank you
I shall write in detail after having seen the programme
deanhills
yagnyavalkya wrote:
Yes the topic of Iran and the West sure is an interesting one
I will be watching the said documentary
thank you
I shall write in detail after having seen the programme


We look forward to it yagnyavalkya. Have not heard from you for a while Smile
ThePolemistis
deanhills wrote:
ThePolemistis wrote:
And as a sidenote, in my opinion, Iran and Pakistan are able to stand on their own two feet thanks to the American sanctions Smile


Good point. Sanctions tend to have that effect. What is that saying about what does not break you makes you stronger?

On the other hand. When I am talking to the people here in the Middle East who are resident in Pakistan, they are seriously worried. They feel Pakistan has been deteriorating at a tremendous pace since the increase of violence and departure of a great percentage of expats. Maybe like Lebanon. They are standing on their own feet, but standards are not the same, and maybe that is OK. Same in Iran. Most of their brainy people are working in North America in plum positions. It is not easy to find work in Iran. It is also not easy to live free in Iran. But then of course they do have a choice, which is at least the nice part of it. I personally would not want to live in Iran. People where I am have been on visits to large conferences, and it is not easy to get a Visa, and once you are in the country as an expat, your movements are very closely monitored.


The standards of Pakistan and Iran in terms of democracy, human/women rights is much better than compared to Arab countries. Pakistan has had a women PM and many women MPs, and Iran has women MPs and even a Jewish PM.
Maybe many Pakistanis and Iranians are working in the developed world, but isn't this true for all developing nations? I don't think it is to do with living freely, but rather that the standards of lviing is much better.

And seriously, if you fear living in a state of surveillance, then I would rather fear living in the United States than Pakistan and/or Iran.
Moonspider
ThePolemistis wrote:
And seriously, if you fear living in a state of surveillance, then I would rather fear living in the United States than Pakistan and/or Iran.


Really? Based upon what? Very few countries (any?) have more liberties than the United States. And the surveillance rate is significantly higher in other countries, including Iran, than the U.S.

Respectfully,
M
Bikerman
I suppose it depends on what you mean by surveillance. The UK, for example, has one of the (if not THE) highest rates of CCTV cameras in the world (1 camera for every 14 people). We have 1% of the world's population and about 20% of the world's CCTV cameras.
ThePolemistis
Moonspider wrote:
ThePolemistis wrote:
And seriously, if you fear living in a state of surveillance, then I would rather fear living in the United States than Pakistan and/or Iran.


Really? Based upon what? Very few countries (any?) have more liberties than the United States. And the surveillance rate is significantly higher in other countries, including Iran, than the U.S.

Respectfully,
M


Bikerman wrote:

I suppose it depends on what you mean by surveillance. The UK, for example, has one of the (if not THE) highest rates of CCTV cameras in the world (1 camera for every 14 people). We have 1% of the world's population and about 20% of the world's CCTV cameras.



Based on surveillance.

Although, CCTV is more of a nuissance and mainly in London only. Wire-tapping, digital fingerprinting, RFID chips, having DNA database of millions of innocent civilians and the like are of deep concern to ones liberty.
deanhills
ThePolemistis wrote:
deanhills wrote:
ThePolemistis wrote:
And as a sidenote, in my opinion, Iran and Pakistan are able to stand on their own two feet thanks to the American sanctions Smile


Good point. Sanctions tend to have that effect. What is that saying about what does not break you makes you stronger?

On the other hand. When I am talking to the people here in the Middle East who are resident in Pakistan, they are seriously worried. They feel Pakistan has been deteriorating at a tremendous pace since the increase of violence and departure of a great percentage of expats. Maybe like Lebanon. They are standing on their own feet, but standards are not the same, and maybe that is OK. Same in Iran. Most of their brainy people are working in North America in plum positions. It is not easy to find work in Iran. It is also not easy to live free in Iran. But then of course they do have a choice, which is at least the nice part of it. I personally would not want to live in Iran. People where I am have been on visits to large conferences, and it is not easy to get a Visa, and once you are in the country as an expat, your movements are very closely monitored.


The standards of Pakistan and Iran in terms of democracy, human/women rights is much better than compared to Arab countries. Pakistan has had a women PM and many women MPs, and Iran has women MPs and even a Jewish PM.
Maybe many Pakistanis and Iranians are working in the developed world, but isn't this true for all developing nations? I don't think it is to do with living freely, but rather that the standards of lviing is much better.

And seriously, if you fear living in a state of surveillance, then I would rather fear living in the United States than Pakistan and/or Iran.


I live in a state of surveillance that is as non-intrusive as in the US. In Iran my friends had to be accompanied by local escorts wherever they went. They were not allowed to walk on their own. Think that is a little bit different. Granted US can track you anywhere, but I was talking about something really different here, of the kind that would have bothered you for sure.

I believe the PM you referred to in Pakistan is no longer with us? Which is very sad, as I had quite a lot of respect for her. She had a lot of guts. Perhaps you misunderstood, I am well aware that women in Pakistan have much more freedom than their counterparts in some of the Arab countries. But possibly Pakistan's problems are unstable Government and terrorist groups? It is not a very safe country to travel in.
Moonspider
ThePolemistis wrote:
Moonspider wrote:
ThePolemistis wrote:
And seriously, if you fear living in a state of surveillance, then I would rather fear living in the United States than Pakistan and/or Iran.


Really? Based upon what? Very few countries (any?) have more liberties than the United States. And the surveillance rate is significantly higher in other countries, including Iran, than the U.S.

Respectfully,
M


Based on surveillance.

Although, CCTV is more of a nuissance and mainly in London only. Wire-tapping, digital fingerprinting, RFID chips, having DNA database of millions of innocent civilians and the like are of deep concern to ones liberty.


The wire-tapping of which you speak is limited to foreign communications into the United States from suspected individuals or locations. I will concede that innocent communications are probably listened into because of this program. However, when I am in any foreign country whether it for personal, my civilian job, or government business, I treat every communication I make as if it is being tapped. It's just good sense for a paranoid man like me! Wink (And it's for personal security reasons when overseas, not because of any fear of Uncle Sam standing over my shoulder. Eves dropping equipment is relatively cheap and readily available. Iím also mindful of any wireless or Internet communications in the United States for the same reason.)

Iím not sure what you are talking about regarding digital fingerprinting and RFID chips. Is there a government program you know of that I do not? My fingerprints and DNA are on file with the FBI because I work for the United States government. But I donít know of a program that requires either for civilians unless you need a background check (fingerprints) for your job (security, child care, etc.).

I assume you are speaking of the federal DNA database composed of DNA from people convicted of federal crimes. Yes, there is a recent proposal to expand DNA collection to include people arrested or detained for federal crimes. (Detainees would mostly be illegal immigrants.)

The DNA database doesnít give me a warm fuzzy emotionally. But logically it is just a database of DNA markers. Thus itís nothing more than a biometric signature, and therefore little different from a fingerprint. If it passes (I believe itís an amendment to a female victimsí rights bill), time will tell if itís effectiveness outweighs any privacy concerns. Many states already do this, and Iím sure others will follow. So I predict it will pass and Iím sure criminals will be caught because of it. And fears of the FBI using the samples to find out if Jane Doe is prone to breast cancer, or John Doe has Irish ancestors will fade in time.

Stories like this we insure that such laws pass:

Washington Post wrote:
Jayann Sepich of Carlsbad, N.M., said she applauds the federal rule change. In August 2003, after Sepich's 22-year-old daughter, Katie, was raped and killed, investigators found her attacker's skin and blood under her fingernails. But no samples in the state's database matched the evidence.

In 2006, moved by Katie Sepich's death, the New Mexico legislature passed "Katie's Law," requiring the collection of arrestees' DNA. That December, authorities arrested the man who had killed her -- a DNA sample had been taken from him when he was arrested on a charge of aggravated burglary. Jayann Sepich is now a prominent advocate of similar laws in other states.

Source: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/story/2008/04/17/ST2008041701676.html

Face it. We live in the 21st Century. As Isaac Asimov said (I paraphrase) technological advancement and privacy are mutually exclusive. So you can choose to enjoy the fruits of human advancement and lose some privacy with each passing decade, or you can live like the Amish in 19th Century communities.

And the truth from my perspective is that of all the countries in which I've spent time in Asia, the Middle East, and Europe, I've never experienced more freedom than I do in the United States.

Respectfully,
M
deanhills
Moonspider wrote:
And the truth from my perspective is that of all the countries in which I've spent time in Asia, the Middle East, and Europe, I've never experienced more freedom than I do in the United States.

Respectfully,
M

Perhaps this feeling is relative to someone who has a US passport and speaks with a US accent? If you have Government connections, I can imagine most of the countries who are worried about "US spies", would make you feel less than free, even before you have decided to travel to those destinations, and with good reason too.

I feel completely free in Canada, Europe, UK, most of the world really. More free than in the US, as here's the thing. Those US immigration guys are suspicious of everyone coming either from Canada, or from outside the United States. And this has been the case very long before terrorism visited the US. Applying for a Visa at a US Consulate General outside the US has never been a good experience. Once inside though, and since I have family in the US, I feel relatively free. But true freedom is when I cross the border back into Canada.
handfleisch
Bikerman wrote:
I have just watched the second of a series of 3 on the BBC about Iran and the west. Personally I have found it absorbing and I would like to recommend it to others.
The first episode is now available on the BBC 'watch again'. The one I just watched will be available in a few days. I'm not sure if the 'watch again' link will work in all countries but I provide it in hope Smile
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00htnkq


Yes it's a good documentary, which makes one notice how little of life in Iran we ever are shown in the media, which seems to be 24/7 ayatollahs. Read some more of the other side of the story here: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/travel/destinations/middle_east/article5768065.ece
Quote:
Iran: the friendliest people in the world
Beaming smiles, gel and a joke about lavatory brushes and weapons of mass destruction - Iran overturns all expectations
ThePolemistis
deanhills wrote:
ThePolemistis wrote:
deanhills wrote:
ThePolemistis wrote:
And as a sidenote, in my opinion, Iran and Pakistan are able to stand on their own two feet thanks to the American sanctions Smile


Good point. Sanctions tend to have that effect. What is that saying about what does not break you makes you stronger?

On the other hand. When I am talking to the people here in the Middle East who are resident in Pakistan, they are seriously worried. They feel Pakistan has been deteriorating at a tremendous pace since the increase of violence and departure of a great percentage of expats. Maybe like Lebanon. They are standing on their own feet, but standards are not the same, and maybe that is OK. Same in Iran. Most of their brainy people are working in North America in plum positions. It is not easy to find work in Iran. It is also not easy to live free in Iran. But then of course they do have a choice, which is at least the nice part of it. I personally would not want to live in Iran. People where I am have been on visits to large conferences, and it is not easy to get a Visa, and once you are in the country as an expat, your movements are very closely monitored.


The standards of Pakistan and Iran in terms of democracy, human/women rights is much better than compared to Arab countries. Pakistan has had a women PM and many women MPs, and Iran has women MPs and even a Jewish PM.
Maybe many Pakistanis and Iranians are working in the developed world, but isn't this true for all developing nations? I don't think it is to do with living freely, but rather that the standards of lviing is much better.

And seriously, if you fear living in a state of surveillance, then I would rather fear living in the United States than Pakistan and/or Iran.


I live in a state of surveillance that is as non-intrusive as in the US. In Iran my friends had to be accompanied by local escorts wherever they went. They were not allowed to walk on their own. Think that is a little bit different. Granted US can track you anywhere, but I was talking about something really different here, of the kind that would have bothered you for sure.

I believe the PM you referred to in Pakistan is no longer with us? Which is very sad, as I had quite a lot of respect for her. She had a lot of guts. Perhaps you misunderstood, I am well aware that women in Pakistan have much more freedom than their counterparts in some of the Arab countries. But possibly Pakistan's problems are unstable Government and terrorist groups? It is not a very safe country to travel in.


Who were ur friends and what did they do? Where they spys/intels? It is the same everywhere... if you are different from the rest, u will get annoying glances at you. If a brown man with a backpack went on a bus or train in London or Washington, a lot of people would look at him and the police and security would search him on the basis of his colour/religion.

Regarding Pakistan: yes I was referring to Benazir Bhutto: whether she was a good PM or not, I am proud that Pakistan and the Muslim world had their first female leader and it is unfortuanate in the way she died.
Sure there are terrorist groups and unstable govt in Pakistan but seriously it is not unsafe to travel. Like anywhere it depends where you want to go: I am sure there are places in the United States that are far worse with relation to gun crime that you would dare not set foot in. Similarly, if you want to go to the Pakistan and Afghanistan border, then be my guest: but make sure you protect urself from American bombing (yes in Pakistan airspace it happens too) and Taliban kidnapping.
deanhills
ThePolemistis wrote:
It is the same everywhere... if you are different from the rest, u will get annoying glances at you. If a brown man with a backpack went on a bus or train in London or Washington, a lot of people would look at him and the police and security would search him on the basis of his colour/religion.
That is a good point. I've seen it everywhere too. Irony, those that are really terrorists would be too smooth to allow that to happen to him. They are just one step ahead all the time.

ThePolemistis wrote:
I am sure there are places in the United States that are far worse with relation to gun crime that you would dare not set foot in.
I agree with this too. As well as those US citizens who have not travelled much, may judge the world outside the US as being of the same or worse. I would love to travel to Pakistan one day. I have made some good friends, and have already been receiving the same advice. I'm not sure whether I will make it this year, but it is definitely high on my list of countries I would like to visit.
Moonspider
deanhills wrote:
Moonspider wrote:
And the truth from my perspective is that of all the countries in which I've spent time in Asia, the Middle East, and Europe, I've never experienced more freedom than I do in the United States.

Respectfully,
M

Perhaps this feeling is relative to someone who has a US passport and speaks with a US accent? If you have Government connections, I can imagine most of the countries who are worried about "US spies", would make you feel less than free, even before you have decided to travel to those destinations, and with good reason too.


Actually I was thinking of specific legal examples. For instance (not an exhaustive list):

  1. Cannot consume alcohol (common in the Middle East)
  2. Cannot possess a Bible (e.g. Saudi Arabia)
  3. Cannot speak negatively about the royal family (e.g. Thailand)
  4. Cannot carry a concealed sidearm (most countries outside the United States)


That being said, there are freedoms in some foreign countries one doesnít find in the United States, such as relaxed drug and prostitution laws. (Although those particular laws donít make me feel any more free! )

Actually, when travelling on government business I typically enjoy more freedom overseas than I do when travelling personally. I typically get through customs easier and sometimes am afforded liberties that I would not otherwise enjoy as a tourist.

But youíre right in that a lot of it amounts to perceptions. When I travel abroad my level of alertness is highly elevated. I take numerous security precautions and am highly guarded in my behavior. I do the same in the United States out of habit and partially as practice, but to a much lesser extent than I do overseas. So my own actions probably skew my perceptions of any country I visit.

Respectfully,
M
deanhills
Moonspider wrote:

Actually I was thinking of specific legal examples. For instance (not an exhaustive list):

  1. Cannot consume alcohol (common in the Middle East)
  2. Cannot possess a Bible (e.g. Saudi Arabia)
  3. Cannot speak negatively about the royal family (e.g. Thailand)
  4. Cannot carry a concealed sidearm (most countries outside the United States)


That being said, there are freedoms in some foreign countries one doesnít find in the United States, such as relaxed drug and prostitution laws. (Although those particular laws donít make me feel any more free! )

Actually, when travelling on government business I typically enjoy more freedom overseas than I do when travelling personally. I typically get through customs easier and sometimes am afforded liberties that I would not otherwise enjoy as a tourist.

But youíre right in that a lot of it amounts to perceptions. When I travel abroad my level of alertness is highly elevated. I take numerous security precautions and am highly guarded in my behavior. I do the same in the United States out of habit and partially as practice, but to a much lesser extent than I do overseas. So my own actions probably skew my perceptions of any country I visit.

Respectfully,
M

Wow, I did not even know about some of those, and yes, of course, this is a total different perspective. I did not know about the Bible in Saudi Arabia for example. I know they do not treat women very well, even those who are professional and are lucky to get a Visa to travel to Saudi Arabia, without being accompanied by a father or brother. Consumption of alcohol is possible in Hotels, and one can get a license in most of the countries in the Middle East as an expat, but you are right, there are limitations in comparison with the US. Speaking negatively of Royal Family is not the thing to do in the Middle East either. You just do not criticize any of the Government officials publicly, and have to be careful what you say, so yes, in the US one would feel much freer relative to that. The sidearm thing one does not even think about here in the Middle East. Not really needed though. I remember many years ago when I travelled to Rome in Italy, and how shocked I was when I arrived at the Airport and found all those soldiers with machine guns, also once in Rome there were units on some street corners with armed cars as well. I notice they are now armed at the International Airports in the UK too. Although the way they carry their weapons does not look offensive or intrusive, they do it in a relaxed way.
handfleisch
Timothy Garton Ash has been travelling and writing about totalitarianism for decades, with a lot of focus on Communist regimes like those in East Germany. He says that now East Germany has more freedom than Britain in some ways. This article is a must-read for anyone who cares about liberty in the western world. Excerpts below

Quote:
Liberty in Britain is facing death by a thousand cuts. We can fight back

It is shocking how many curtailments of freedom have been imposed. Each one may be small but the cumulative loss is vast.
...
The East Germans are now more free than we are, at least in terms of law and administrative practice in such areas as surveillance and data collection.
...
Today, Britain has such broadly drawn and elastic surveillance laws that Poole borough council could exploit them to spend two weeks spying on a family wrongly accused of lying on a school application form. The official spies reportedly made copious notes on the movements of the mother and her three children, whom they referred to as "targets", and watched the family go home at night to establish where they were sleeping. And this is supposed to be modern Britain?
...
But we have more CCTV, a larger DNA database and a more ambitious (and unworkable) National Identity Register scheme, as well as more police powers and more email snooping than any comparable liberal democracy. On top of which we have a bureaucracy so centralised and incompetent in managing this mass of data that it lost two computer discs containing the child benefit details of 25 million people.
...
What's more, the certain loss of liberty will often not result in the alleged gain in security or efficiency. So, for example, Gordon Brown and his ministers went on pressing for 42 days' detention without trial, despite the fact that two former heads of the country's security service, the director of public prosecutions, the former lord chancellor, attorney general and lord chief justice - in short, almost everyone in a position to know - said it was wrong, unnecessary and counterproductive.


on edit: forgot link http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/libertycentral/2009/feb/19/civil-liberties-terrorism
ocalhoun
handfleisch wrote:
Timothy Garton Ash has been travelling and writing about totalitarianism for decades, with a lot of focus on Communist regimes like those in East Germany. He says that now East Germany has more freedom than Britain in some ways. This article is a must-read for anyone who cares about liberty in the western world. Excerpts below

Quote:
Liberty in Britain is facing death by a thousand cuts. We can fight back

It is shocking how many curtailments of freedom have been imposed. Each one may be small but the cumulative loss is vast.
...
The East Germans are now more free than we are, at least in terms of law and administrative practice in such areas as surveillance and data collection.
...
Today, Britain has such broadly drawn and elastic surveillance laws that Poole borough council could exploit them to spend two weeks spying on a family wrongly accused of lying on a school application form. The official spies reportedly made copious notes on the movements of the mother and her three children, whom they referred to as "targets", and watched the family go home at night to establish where they were sleeping. And this is supposed to be modern Britain?
...
But we have more CCTV, a larger DNA database and a more ambitious (and unworkable) National Identity Register scheme, as well as more police powers and more email snooping than any comparable liberal democracy. On top of which we have a bureaucracy so centralised and incompetent in managing this mass of data that it lost two computer discs containing the child benefit details of 25 million people.
...
What's more, the certain loss of liberty will often not result in the alleged gain in security or efficiency. So, for example, Gordon Brown and his ministers went on pressing for 42 days' detention without trial, despite the fact that two former heads of the country's security service, the director of public prosecutions, the former lord chancellor, attorney general and lord chief justice - in short, almost everyone in a position to know - said it was wrong, unnecessary and counterproductive.


on edit: forgot link http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/libertycentral/2009/feb/19/civil-liberties-terrorism


Am I missing something?
I thought freedom and privacy were two entirely different things, but they seem to be treated as equivalent in this thread...
deanhills
handfleisch wrote:
Timothy Garton Ash has been travelling and writing about totalitarianism for decades, with a lot of focus on Communist regimes like those in East Germany. He says that now East Germany has more freedom than Britain in some ways. This article is a must-read for anyone who cares about liberty in the western world. http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/libertycentral/2009/feb/19/civil-liberties-terrorism

Interesting article Handfleisch. Thanks for posting it.

ocalhoun wrote:
Am I missing something?
I thought freedom and privacy were two entirely different things, but they seem to be treated as equivalent in this thread...


I thought the right to privacy would be an essential ingredient of freedom? For example, I am horrified with Governments and Large Corporations, including the Hospitals, having large chunks of private and confidential information in their databases, and exchanging some of it without prior consent of the individuals. In South Africa for example there exists electronic cross checks of private information among almost all big corporations such as the electricity supplier, all Banks, Investment companies and Insurance Institutions, as well as the Tax Authority and Government, which I believe work counter to freedom. In Canada there is quite a lot of protest and concerns about Medical Hospitals keeping medical information confidential. For good reason. To be free, one has to have the right to privacy. So I would regard the right to privacy and obtaining consent before your private information is used, an essential ingredient of freedom.
ocalhoun
deanhills wrote:

ocalhoun wrote:
Am I missing something?
I thought freedom and privacy were two entirely different things, but they seem to be treated as equivalent in this thread...


I thought the right to privacy would be an essential ingredient of freedom? For example, I am horrified with Governments and Large Corporations, including the Hospitals, having large chunks of private and confidential information in their databases, and exchanging some of it without prior consent of the individuals. In South Africa for example there exists electronic cross checks of private information among almost all big corporations such as the electricity supplier, all Banks, Investment companies and Insurance Institutions, as well as the Tax Authority and Government, which I believe work counter to freedom. In Canada there is quite a lot of protest and concerns about Medical Hospitals keeping medical information confidential. For good reason. To be free, one has to have the right to privacy. So I would regard the right to privacy and obtaining consent before your private information is used, an essential ingredient of freedom.

Privacy is not at all essential to freedom. As long as what you are doing is legal, why not allow everybody to know about it?
Bikerman
Privacy IS essential to freedom.
I wish to conduct certain of my affairs confidentially. That might be because I am concerned for the other person(s), such as when I am counselling a very disturbed teenager, or it might be because I don't want other people to be party to my actions (such as when I make love to my wife). There are numerous legal activities that I undertake on a daily basis that are nobody else's business and I do not want other people to think they have any 'right' to know about.
deanhills
Bikerman wrote:
Privacy IS essential to freedom.
I wish to conduct certain of my affairs confidentially. That might be because I am concerned for the other person(s), such as when I am counselling a very disturbed teenager, or it might be because I don't want other people to be party to my actions (such as when I make love to my wife). There are numerous legal activities that I undertake on a daily basis that are nobody else's business and I do not want other people to think they have any 'right' to know about.


I like the examples. If you would like to help someone they have to feel safe with you and know that they can trust you to keep their discussions confidential. Medical information in particular is sensitive. Think there are some ethics involved as well. I sometimes feel that less privacy is going to become a sacrifice for the world which has gone completely online. Like satellite surveillance systems. I am sure the purpose of this has been to detect mischief, yet at the same time it can detect anything else as well. A regulatory body may subpoenae a Bank for a list of investors in a scam deal, and through that may have access to the banking information of all the innocent investors as well. Without them knowing about that. They may not even be in the deal, when further investigations are made and more banks subpoenaed in offshore locations, they may find banking information of more citizens, add this to their own database, and these are never erased. In future investigations, those databases could be cross-referenced, and that private and confidential information would still be there.
yagnyavalkya
Free don and religion are two very different topics
freedom is inherent and religion is man made
in the long run religion will diminish and wane away but freedom never will
ocalhoun
Bikerman wrote:
Privacy IS essential to freedom.
I wish to conduct certain of my affairs confidentially. That might be because I am concerned for the other person(s), such as when I am counselling a very disturbed teenager, or it might be because I don't want other people to be party to my actions (such as when I make love to my wife). There are numerous legal activities that I undertake on a daily basis that are nobody else's business and I do not want other people to think they have any 'right' to know about.

But people knowing about these things doesn't hinder your ability to do them.

Having so little privacy that others are privy to you making love to your wife is truly objectionable, but it isn't a freedom-related issue. That much invasion of privacy is intrinsically wrong, but as long as nobody tries to restrict your ability to do these things, it isn't reducing your freedom.
Bikerman
ocalhoun wrote:
Bikerman wrote:
Privacy IS essential to freedom.
I wish to conduct certain of my affairs confidentially. That might be because I am concerned for the other person(s), such as when I am counselling a very disturbed teenager, or it might be because I don't want other people to be party to my actions (such as when I make love to my wife). There are numerous legal activities that I undertake on a daily basis that are nobody else's business and I do not want other people to think they have any 'right' to know about.

But people knowing about these things doesn't hinder your ability to do them.
Of course it does. How am I going to persuade a vulnerable teenager to 'open up' to me and talk honestly about potentially embarrasing problems if he/she knows, or suspects, that what he/she says will be made public?

Privacy is defined as a right under EEC Human Rights legislation, Article 8
Quote:
(1) Everyone has the right for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.

(2) There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.
ocalhoun
Bikerman wrote:
ocalhoun wrote:
Bikerman wrote:
Privacy IS essential to freedom.
I wish to conduct certain of my affairs confidentially. That might be because I am concerned for the other person(s), such as when I am counselling a very disturbed teenager, or it might be because I don't want other people to be party to my actions (such as when I make love to my wife). There are numerous legal activities that I undertake on a daily basis that are nobody else's business and I do not want other people to think they have any 'right' to know about.

But people knowing about these things doesn't hinder your ability to do them.
Of course it does. How am I going to persuade a vulnerable teenager to 'open up' to me and talk honestly about potentially embarrasing problems if he/she knows, or suspects, that what he/she says will be made public?

That's what we have specific confidentiality for: doctor-patient, lawyer-client, clergy-(unsure of correct term), et cetera.
These are some of the specific situations where a lack of privacy does restrict freedom, and these specific confidential areas must be kept confidential.
A CCTV camera pointed at your street or a database connecting your fingerprints and DNA with your name and address, however, do not restrict your freedom to participate in any legal activity.
Quote:

Privacy is defined as a right under EEC Human Rights legislation, Article 8
Quote:
(1) Everyone has the right for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.

(2) There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.

Only the most frivolous invasions of privacy couldn't be justified with those exceptions...
All your credit card transactions could be monitored in the name of economic well-being, prevention of crime, and/or the protection of health or morals.
Your phone conversations could be monitored with the justification of national security, public safety, the prevention of crime, or the protection of morals.

The (2) section makes this statement of a right to privacy very weak; rightly so.
Bikerman
ocalhoun wrote:
Bikerman wrote:
ocalhoun wrote:
Bikerman wrote:
Privacy IS essential to freedom.
I wish to conduct certain of my affairs confidentially. That might be because I am concerned for the other person(s), such as when I am counselling a very disturbed teenager, or it might be because I don't want other people to be party to my actions (such as when I make love to my wife). There are numerous legal activities that I undertake on a daily basis that are nobody else's business and I do not want other people to think they have any 'right' to know about.

But people knowing about these things doesn't hinder your ability to do them.
Of course it does. How am I going to persuade a vulnerable teenager to 'open up' to me and talk honestly about potentially embarrasing problems if he/she knows, or suspects, that what he/she says will be made public?

That's what we have specific confidentiality for: doctor-patient, lawyer-client, clergy-(unsure of correct term), et cetera.
These are some of the specific situations where a lack of privacy does restrict freedom, and these specific confidential areas must be kept confidential.
A CCTV camera pointed at your street or a database connecting your fingerprints and DNA with your name and address, however, do not restrict your freedom to participate in any legal activity.
Err...most of those examples are NOT enshrined in law, except in some very indirect sense (duty of care, for example). That is the point. The example I gave is a real one and there is no specific law covering it. I would have to use Human Rights legislation in any court case...

Now, as for databases etc - yes they can indeed restrict my freedoms. Take a simply example - the DNA database. As medical technology progresses it is already possible to scan my DNA for various 'risk factors'. This information, if made available to insurance companies, would enable them to refuse to cover people with such factors which would lead to a genetic 'sub class' of people who would not be able to insure their homes, their vehicles, their lives etc.
Take another example - the CCTV camera. Information about my whereabouts would be very useful indeed to several groups of people - burglars being an obvious example. If such information were made freely available then all a burglar has to do is watch the CCTV for my daily routine and then break in to suit...
deanhills
Bikerman wrote:
Take a simply example - the DNA database. As medical technology progresses it is already possible to scan my DNA for various 'risk factors'. This information, if made available to insurance companies, would enable them to refuse to cover people with such factors which would lead to a genetic 'sub class' of people who would not be able to insure their homes, their vehicles, their lives etc.
Take another example - the CCTV camera. Information about my whereabouts would be very useful indeed to several groups of people - burglars being an obvious example. If such information were made freely available then all a burglar has to do is watch the CCTV for my daily routine and then break in to suit...


Totally agreed and these are good examples. I think the presumption is that invasion of privacy like that would be used responsibly and with discretion at all times, but would it? I think this would amount to living in a police state where all your movements are monitored. How can one be free in a situation like that? In addition, how can one separate that kind of monitoring from doctor and patient and lawyer and client confidential situations? Who is to say that that same monitoring system could not be employed to access lawyer and client confidential situations, all under the pretext of the common good for security purposes. Once privacy is invaded, where would it stop? Someone will have to monitor the use of it by Government officials, otherwise it is bound to be abused as overenthusiastic investigators usually tend to do when they are doing their investigations.
ocalhoun
Bikerman wrote:
Err...most of those examples are NOT enshrined in law, except in some very indirect sense (duty of care, for example). That is the point. The example I gave is a real one and there is no specific law covering it. I would have to use Human Rights legislation in any court case...

No specific law? In the UK perhaps, but in the US, there are specific laws about these things:
For doctor-patient I'm not sure, but I think the name of the law is HIPAA, which mandates the privacy of medical information.
I don't know the specific law, but I'm sure it is illegal for a lawyer to divulge any information given to him in confidence by his/her client. Also, that same information cannot be subpoenaed.
Not sure about the civilian world, but all private conversations between soldiers and US military chaplains are strictly confidential, and they cannot legally be forced to divulge that information. This is mandated by the UCMJ. I think there's a similar law for civilian clergy, but I'm not absolutely sure... it may just fall under freedom of religion.
Quote:

Now, as for databases etc - yes they can indeed restrict my freedoms. Take a simply example - the DNA database. As medical technology progresses it is already possible to scan my DNA for various 'risk factors'. This information, if made available to insurance companies, would enable them to refuse to cover people with such factors which would lead to a genetic 'sub class' of people who would not be able to insure their homes, their vehicles, their lives etc.

If genetic discrimination becomes a problem, it can be made illegal, just like racial discrimination.
Quote:

Take another example - the CCTV camera. Information about my whereabouts would be very useful indeed to several groups of people - burglars being an obvious example. If such information were made freely available then all a burglar has to do is watch the CCTV for my daily routine and then break in to suit...

Hopefully feeds from these cameras wouldn't be made available to just anyone, but even if they were, it would be better to rely on good security (which would include random variations of your routine) to protect your home than to rely on your privacy keeping your schedule secret.
Also, is this really a freedom issue? Making it slightly easier to burglarize your house doesn't really violate any of your basic rights... On the brighter side, it'll be easier to catch and convict the burglar with the evidence from the camera. Personally, I'd say having a camera pointed at your house generally makes it more secure, not less.
Bikerman
Well, on the laws it is obviously different in the US - you have a constitutional basis whereas we have a 'common law precedent' basis.
Genetic discrimination was just one more example - I've already given 2 others. You appear to be saying that each infringement should be legislated individually, with the assumption of no privacy otherwise - whereas I am saying the presumption should be that privacy be respected unless there is a public interest in not doing so.

Of course making it easier to burglarize my house infringes my freedoms - I have to alter my routine and practices - in other words I am FORCED into certain actions. I'm not assuming that the camera is pointed at my house - most are not - I'm talking about criminals being able to tell when I am away from my house. If you genuinely believe that cameras pointed at everyone's house would be no infringement of freedoms then I have to disagree - George Orwell described a similar scenario.
ocalhoun
Bikerman wrote:

Of course making it easier to burglarize my house infringes my freedoms - I have to alter my routine and practices - in other words I am FORCED into certain actions.

You aren't forced into having a secure house. Even now, you can choose to lock or not lock your house. Of course not locking it gives you a higher risk of a break-in, but you still have the freedom to assume that risk and leave the doors unlocked anyway.

Likewise, you would still have the freedom to alter your routines or not. Just because it would be more secure to do so does not mean that you must do so.
Bikerman
ocalhoun wrote:
Bikerman wrote:

Of course making it easier to burglarize my house infringes my freedoms - I have to alter my routine and practices - in other words I am FORCED into certain actions.

You aren't forced into having a secure house. Even now, you can choose to lock or not lock your house. Of course not locking it gives you a higher risk of a break-in, but you still have the freedom to assume that risk and leave the doors unlocked anyway.

Likewise, you would still have the freedom to alter your routines or not. Just because it would be more secure to do so does not mean that you must do so.

False argument. Nobody is FORCED to do anything according to this logic. If a man holds a gun to your head you can always refuse and get your head blown off. That is not how we describe freedom and compulsion - they are described in 'reasonable' terms, not 'absolutes'.
Using this argument you are free to die, or sit and do nothing. That is not a suitable definition of freedom. Freedom implies a lack of unreasonable constraints.
deanhills
Bikerman wrote:
Freedom implies a lack of unreasonable constraints.


Beautifully put.

I found a court case on surveillance in Canada and thought it was appropriate to this discussion:

http://www.hrcr.org/safrica/privacy/r_duarte.html

Quote:
Where persons have reasonable grounds to believe their communications are private communications, the unauthorized surreptitious electronic recording of those communications is an intrusion on a reasonable expectation of privacy. Our perception that we are protected against arbitrary interceptions of private communications ceases to have any real basis once it is accepted that the state is free to record private communications, without constraint, provided only that it has secured the agreement of one of the parties to the communication. The risk of being recorded is not simply a variant of the risk of having one's words disclosed by the person to whom we speak. Surreptitious electronic recording annihilates the very important right to choose the range of our listeners.

Whether or not to allow participant surveillance is a policy decision fraught with the gravest of implications. Countenancing participant surveillance, strikes not only at the expectations of privacy of criminals but also undermines the expectations of privacy of all those who set store on the right to live in reasonable security and freedom from surveillance, be it electronic or otherwise. It has long been recognized that this freedom not to be compelled to share our confidences with others is the very hallmark of a free society.
ocalhoun
Bikerman wrote:
Freedom implies a lack of unreasonable constraints.

But is the slight possibility of others knowing your schedule an 'unreasonable' constraint?
A gun held to your head is unreasonable, but making slightly more likely that someone knows when you'll be gone from your house is not.
You still have several choices on what to do about it, and if you decide that the benefit of doing nothing about it outweighs the slight risk, then you are still free to do nothing.
Bikerman
ocalhoun wrote:
Bikerman wrote:
Freedom implies a lack of unreasonable constraints.

But is the slight possibility of others knowing your schedule an 'unreasonable' constraint?
A gun held to your head is unreasonable, but making slightly more likely that someone knows when you'll be gone from your house is not.
You still have several choices on what to do about it, and if you decide that the benefit of doing nothing about it outweighs the slight risk, then you are still free to do nothing.

You are wriggling.
It is not the right of the state, or anyone else, to know what I am doing when I go about my lawful business. I have given several instances where this would be positively injurious and I can give many more in terms of financial, social and personal disadvantage. We accept, as a society, that there are some occasions when 'snooping' can be justified, such as CCTV cameras in certain location, duly authorised stop and search etc. We do NOT accept, as a society, that this snooping should be or can be generalised to include the presumption that you must have a good reason to challenge it.
Any information is subject to abuse - either by the state itself, or by other actors. Allowing wholesale collection of such information is deeply dangerous to a democratic society and most people instinctively know this. That is why we have legislation which prevents snooping in most countries, although it is often a combination of several laws rather than a specific 'privacy' law. In the UK at the moment the Judges are making law 'on the hoof' and it looks like we are moving to a 'common law' privacy situation. At the moment you have to show that others have trespassed, used illegal bugging or committed some criminal act in gathering private information. This will change.
deanhills
Bikerman wrote:
This will change.

Do you know how this will change Chris, is there some sort of draft out yet? Will be interesting to observe.
ocalhoun
Bikerman wrote:
wholesale collection of such information is deeply dangerous to a democratic society

True, I suppose, but which is more dangerous, collecting it or not collecting it?
(That will of course depend upon how well the collected data is controlled, and how dire the threats to the society are that could by prevented by collecting that information.)

Quote:
I have given several instances where this would be positively injurious and I can give many more in terms of financial, social and personal disadvantage.

If it gets into the wrong hands, yes this information could be used to harm you. It could hurt you financially, socially, and/or personally, (which is a separate issue, as I see it) but does it really restrict your freedom?
deanhills
ocalhoun wrote:
It could hurt you financially, socially, and/or personally, (which is a separate issue, as I see it) but does it really restrict your freedom?

I would have thought that that which would hurt a person financially would automatically restrict their freedom? Ditto social and personal harm? I may not have the freedom of movement I had before for example. Nor the same range of people that I could choose to associate with, so my freedom of association would be impacted.
Bikerman
ocalhoun wrote:
If it gets into the wrong hands, yes this information could be used to harm you. It could hurt you financially, socially, and/or personally, (which is a separate issue, as I see it) but does it really restrict your freedom?
This is turning into a circular argument. Yes, the threat of harm restricts your freedom. If someone threatens to punch you in the nose if you carry out a certain action then you are, of course, still able to carry out the action, but not completely free to do so since you are being coerced - just the same as a man with a gun to your head can make a similar threat and your options are still the same - in one case you die, in the other you get a broken nose.
If the police, for example, collected testimony under threat, then a judge would throw it out because it was not 'freely' given.
Now, when the threat is to reveal or use information, I see no principled difference - your freedom is being constrained.
ocalhoun
Bikerman wrote:
ocalhoun wrote:
If it gets into the wrong hands, yes this information could be used to harm you. It could hurt you financially, socially, and/or personally, (which is a separate issue, as I see it) but does it really restrict your freedom?
This is turning into a circular argument. Yes, the threat of harm restricts your freedom.

Only if that harm is unacceptable. If you're willing to take that harm in order to exercise your choice in actions, then you're still free.
The harm of making it a little more likely that you'll be robbed is, I think, acceptable, as long as you have something to gain by it, even if that gain is only the feeling of doing what you want.

It is true that providing a strong incentive to do something you don't want to restricts your freedom, but I think you greatly exaggerate in comparing it to someone threatening you with a punch in the face or a gun. In the only example I have to work with (the camera/robbery example), the incentive isn't very strong, and could be easily ignored.
Bikerman
Well, I suggest that this debate belongs more correctly in the philosophy forum and we are seriously sidetracking the main thread. I'll be happy to continue this in another thread in that forum....
ocalhoun
Bikerman wrote:
we are seriously sidetracking the main thread.

Very much so...
Perhaps this would be a good time for a new topic about it.
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