Does Privacy Equal Child Pornography?

“You can either stand with us…or with the child pornographers.”

That’s the latest “with us or against us” salvo trotted out to justify more government intrusion into private life. This time, it comes from Canada’s public safety minister as a response to concerns over the new Protecting Children From Internet Predators Act.

Reuters reports: “[The] new law gives police stronger powers to track what Canadians do online, but raises concern from the privacy watchdog about ‘warrantless access to personal information.’”

The article continues:

“The Conservative government says the draft law it unveiled on Tuesday aims at hunting down pedophiles or other criminals by giving police, the country’s spy agency and the Competition Bureau increased access to customer data from Internet service providers.

“Law enforcers will no longer need a warrant to ask Internet providers to hand over ‘identifying information’ such as names, addresses, email addresses, unlisted phone numbers and IP addresses.

“Ottawa says it is simply modernizing its crime-fighting tools and notes that that similar laws are already in place in the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia.

“But Chantal Bernier, the assistant privacy commissioner of Canada, said the bill raised serious concerns.

“‘There is an outstanding issue that to us remains of concern, and that is that it still allows warrantless access to personal information…and it’s not framed either in terms of suspicions of criminal activity or in the context of a criminal investigation,’ Bernier told Reuters.

“‘It’s wide-open, so it could impact on any law-abiding Canadian,’ she said.

“The government named the bill ‘Protecting Children From Internet Predators Act’, framing it as a new tool to end frustrating delays police face when they seek to track suspects’ online activities.”

A new “threat” has joined the pair that Western governments have been using to justify their increasing intrusiveness into private life. Pedophiles, pirates and terrorists…oh my!

There are undoubtedly pedophiles, rapists, thieves and murderers in the world. We just wonder if the best way to combat them is to chip away at privacy till there is none left. That’s sort of like treating an infection by immolating the patient. Or something like that.

This is the typical state approach, however. Create a new enemy or overstate the danger of an existing one. Then tell the subjects that they have to give up more money and liberty so that the state can make us all safer.

We’re reminded of the rules in the city of New York that make it illegal for an adult not accompanying a child to sit on a bench in a public park area designated as a playground. We’re not sure that criminalizing sitting on a park bench is more effective than keeping an eye on the creepy guy leering at the children from a safe distance.

And never mind that in somewhere around 90% of child sexual abuse cases, the offenders are either close relatives (30%) or trusted friends and acquaintances of the family (60%). That leaves around 10% of child molesters who are actual strangers who rely on outright opportunistic abduction.

And we note that ticketing anyone who sitting on a bench too close to a set of monkey bars probably doesn’t do very much to stop those strangers. It would be far better simply to look for and react to actual creepy activity on a case-by-case basis (like the neighbors of child killer Ryan Brunn tried to do when they reported his disturbing behavior to the owners of their apartment complex some time before he abducted and murdered Jorelys Rivera; before he killed himself in his cell, Brunn admitted to having molested two girls while babysitting years ago).

But the state loves to dress up its proscriptions and penalties as moral crusades. Morality makes a fantastic mask for intrusions that would otherwise seem outrageous.

Want to molest white octogenarian ladies and small children in order to remind your subjects who’s boss? Simply agitate foreigners with some invasions, cry “Terrorism!” when they strike back and hand out some uniforms to some checkpoint agents. Your victims will thank you for violating them.

Want to be able to silence the voices that use new technology to poke holes in your legitimacy? Again, it’s simple. Cry “Piracy!” make up some insane numbers about the money your monopolist buddies are losing and have at it.

Want to be able to monitor every move your subjects make? Tell them you’re peeking at their Google searches and setting up the cameras in their bedrooms in order to protect the children.