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A new audio chat show brings together privacy’s renowned friends and foe

radio microphoneBy Simon Davies

The Privacy Surgeon today launches its new audio interview seriesThe Privacy Channel” in which we explore a range of key issues with some of the world’s most influential leaders of thought and policy.

Our aim isn’t just to discuss privacy with defenders and experts, but also to engage with those who have been at the forefront of attacking the right to privacy. Thus the first series of interviews involves such people as Noam Chomsky and noted philosopher Anthony Grayling as well as former NSA and CIA Director General Michael Hayden and former UK Home Secretary and privacy béte noir David Blunkett MP.

Simon Davies and Noam Chomsky working on the Privacy Channel interview

Simon Davies and Noam Chomsky working on the Privacy Channel interview

The series also digs deep into specific aspects of privacy and data protection from an insiders’ perspective, and explores critically important current issues with the likes of Paul Nemitz, Europe’s head of fundamental rights, privacy veteran and Privacy Journal editor Bob Ellis Smith, German Federal privacy and FOI commissioner Peter Schaar and his Berlin counterpart Alexander Dix.

Engaging the opposition in a conversational way is important to achieving a better understanding of the dynamics that shape the privacy world. David Blunkett, for example, who has steered some of Britain’s most contentious surveillance initiatives became quite reflective, and expressed regret over his handling of a number of government initiatives.

Referring to his stewardship of the (now dead) proposed national identity card scheme Blunkett notes “we set up a leviathan. You get carried away. It is a tendency of all public authorities, to create a system around a simple concept and once it starts getting under way, the companies come in, and they’re going to develop something that’s all-singing, all-dancing and sophisticated and the more sophisticated and all-dancing it is, the more it gets away from the original objective, and then people get understandably fearful”

Engaging the opposition in a conversational way is important to achieving a better understanding of the dynamics that shape the privacy world.

“What ‘s it going to be used for?” he continued. “What else do you want to know? Who you gonna share it with? – I mean they’re all good questions and if I had my time again, I’d go back 11 years and start from base one, which is that we’re halfway there anyway, why don’t we build on it?”

One of the world’s most influential thinkers, Professor Noam Chomsky, expanded his renowned discourse on centres of power to deliver a stinging attack on Google, and in particular its product Glass, which he described as “approximately hell”. However his primary focus was on the role Google and other corporations play as part of America’s “secret state’, prying into the lives of all people.

“Do I want a big corporation – and whether what they know is right or wrong – do you want them to have detailed information about your life? Why should a corporation know anything like this?”

The interviews have been made available in audio format. Transcripts with links and resources are being progressively added. A second series will be published here in February.