Empiricism proves that fine words butter no parsnips
Empiricism. It is the acceptance of proof based on experience. Empiricism suggests that we should doubt politicians. Empiricism shows that they use fine words followed by foul deeds.
Security is a perfect example. Where security is concerned, the art of politics is to persuade us that what we really want is whatever they give us. Consider Neelie Kroes, Vice President of the European Commission. On Tuesday she met with “a dozen high-flying young Europeans” and subsequently wrote
…we talked about issues of privacy and cyber-security—and how the law should find the right balance. There are clearly risks online—as there are out there in the real world. But if we over-regulate in response to that then we risk losing what is most precious about the internet—its openness and freedom. And so, for me, the best way to tackle security and privacy issues is to inform and empower digital citizens so they are aware of and can deal with those risks, just like they would in the off-line world.
The implication is that the EC is well aware that too much security means too little freedom; and because of that, the EC will strike the right balance. But the right balance is what they tell us it is. And empiricism shows that all governments use security to increase control regardless of civil liberties. ACTA, the Digital Economy Act, net neutrality, HADOPI, RIPA all come to mind. Where is the right balance in any of these?
So let’s not praise fine words until they are backed by fine deeds. And let’s not hold our breaths.