Alpesh Patel’s Political Sketchbook: Remembrance and Privacy

Tuesday 04th November 2014 15:08 EST

Alpesh Patel’s Political Sketchbook: Remembrance and Privacy

Next week will be the Remembrance Sunday. The war to end all wars is still relevant in the digital era. And it is our duty to know and remember why it all still matters.

The head of spy agency GCHQ claimed this week that Silicon Valley web companies are the command and control centres for terrorists because they keep their users’ information too private.

A couple of years ago I helped Jemima Khan (whose former boyfriend Hugh Grant has been in the news on phone hacking and privacy issue) to raise funds for Auschwitz Concentration Camp Memorial where the Nazis killed Jews in the Second World War.

What connects all these events? 

Because upon ending of the War, European powers worked on enacting the European Convention on Human Rights. These are not simply individual rights, they are rights so that never again will the family be under threat. Rights to marriage for instance. Rights to privacy. People died for these rights. 

Let me remind you what 60 short years ago they died for:
“Considering the Universal Declaration of Human Rights proclaimed by the General Assembly of the United Nations on 10 December 1948; Considering that this Declaration aims at securing the universal and effective recognition and observance of the Rights therein declared…Right to respect for private and family life. Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.” 
This right at Article 8, nestles alongside other ‘trivial’ ones such as the ‘Right to Life’, ‘Prohibition of Torture’, ‘Prohibition of Slavery’, ‘Freedom of Religion’. 

“The saint and poet seek privacy to ends the most public and universal: and it is the secret of culture, to interest the man more in his public, than in his private quality,” said Ralph Waldo Emerson. 

Until you have had to, like I have had to, protect your Article 8 Right to Privacy from through injunctions in the courts against a criminal phone hacker, computer email hackers, it is difficult to understand the importance of ‘the sacred realm of privacy’. 

The terrorists win, not when web companies keep data private, but when they don’t.

It’s a reminder history resonates for years to come and it is our duty to know why it all matters. 

Alpesh Patel

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