Wednesday, June 26, 2013

When Loss of Privacy Leads to Loss of Power

One worry about the ongoing erosion if privacy is that it will lead to further consolidation of power, as the rich and powerful gain new ways to spy on everyone. But this sword cuts both ways, and the political and business leaders who orchestrate our collective loss of privacy sometimes seem to be the last to realize that their decisions and actions will be subject to a new kind of scrutiny. The obvious case in point is Berlusconi, who is piling up convictions from a series of careless infractions and is seeing his political standing in Italy fade as he fights to stay out of jail. The convictions are for crimes Berlusconi might reasonably have expected to hush up a decade earlier, but tax records, private parties, and off-the-record phone calls to government officials are no longer so obscure as they used to be and are easily made part of the judicial record. It is something of a cliché to observe that aging politicians often fail to keep up with the changing times, so it seems fair to guess that many more political and business leaders will run afoul of the law and then express surprise at having to face justice.