Hackgate: cause or symptom?

There’s been a lot of talk over the past few days about whether Murdoch’s media empire is soon to crumble, and about the illegitimate activities supposedly carried out by employees of News International. We’re no fans of Murdoch’s approach to journalism, and we won’t be shedding any tears if his reign of influence over public and political opinion is beginning to wane. This piece in the Irish Times has us thinking about the climate of civil liberties violations in which the alleged offences took place, however, and wondering whether there’s more to say about the connection between the climate of state scrutiny that prevailed at that time, and the sense of impunity with which NI employees seem to have acted.

As the piece makes very clear, New Labour presided over a seemingly systematic erosion of our civil liberties. A few mentioned in the Irish Times are the proposed introduction of ID Cards, DNA storage, even of those not found guilty of committing a crime, by police, and the colossal ANPR network that now makes it virtually impossible to drive on a main road without having your journey recorded.

If you’ve been following our work, you’ll know that we’ve been focussed on the abuses of our civil liberties, and the ways in which we might remedy them, for a number of years. So the idea that the supposed transgressions of Brooks, Coulson, et al are less the actions of an isolated cadre of journalists and more a reflection of the zeitgeist of the early 2000s has us thinking about the situation in a whole new way.

What are your thoughts? Let us know what you make of the situation.

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