The News of the World didn’t go far enough. Earlier this year, WikiLeaks released 86 telephone recordings of corrupt Peruvian politicians and businessmen. The revelations became the front page of every major paper in Peru and the journalists involved, such as Pablo O’Brian, became national heroes.
Europe has had its fair share of similar exposés. Italy’s Prodi government was toppled by such revelations and in December 2007, Silvio Berlusconi, who was then opposition leader, was himself exposed on a phone call leaked from an anti-corruption investigation. Further revelations from Berlusconi’s circle were expected later this year, but by May the Italian Prime Minister had introduced “British style” legislation to prevent the Italian press from publishing them. Berlusconi justified the new law by saying that the privacy of Italian citizens was threatened by the press.
Now in Britain, we see similar sanctimonious hand-wringing over the “privacy rights” of the British elite. These individuals, through active scheming and quiet acceptance, have turned the UK into what Privacy International now bills as an “Endemic Surveillance Society”. Barely a month goes by without the government and its supporters pushing another Orwellian state surveillance scheme. But now, like Berlusconi, these elites purport a sudden interest in protecting the privacy rights of the people, not by rolling back such schemes, but by gagging the press.