Posted by: Spacehamster74 | 03/19/2009

Is this really a case of Privacy gone too far?

I note with interest the article by Gordon Rayner in the Sydney Morning Herald regarding Josef Fritzl.

Austria's preoccupation with privacy is a throwback to the Nazi era,
when Hitler was enthusiastically welcomed into towns like Amstetten,
where a young Josef Fritzl sat on his father's shoulders and cheered
the fuhrer. Collaborators were encouraged to inform on neighbours who
did not embrace the Nazi agenda, who were then taken away to a nearby
concentration camp. After the war, Austria was desperate to hush up its
complicity in the Holocaust: three out of every four death camp
commandants was Austrian. Hence the instinct, which exists to this day,
to cover up the unsavoury and discourage the sort of curtain twitching
that was rife during the war.

Such a culture has led to
farcical scenes at Fritzl's trial, where judges were so nervous of
breaching the defendant's right to privacy that they did nothing to
stop him covering his face with an A4 ring binder when the media were
briefly allowed to film him. Austrian newspapers are only allowed to
refer to the defendant as Josef F, which is standard procedure in sex
abuse trials but pointless pedantry in a case where the entire world
knows the defendant's name.

Essentially I think the article is arguing that excessive Privacy Laws are a bad thing. As a journalist of course he'd be thanking this stance, because they prevent him from getting juicy news stories. Speaking as an ordinary Australian Citizen, I'm grateful for whatever protection of privacy I have. I think the failure to capture Fritz earlier can be traced back to the lack of community spirit that seems to affect every major populated city nowadays. People don't have any sense of empathy for each other anymore.

I'm not sure what the solution to that problem is. I just don't think that removing all Privacy Laws is going to help solve the problem for ordinary citizens like me.


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