Tuesday, October 29, 2013

"Social responsibility" and leaks

British Prime Minister David Cameron wants newspapers to show "social responsibility" and not publish leaked material which makes his government look bad:

David Cameron has called on the Guardian and other newspapers to show "social responsibility" in the reporting of the leaked NSA files to avoid high court injunctions or the use of D notices to prevent the publication of information that could damage national security.


Cameron told MPs: "We have a free press, it's very important the press feels it is not pre-censored from what it writes and all the rest of it.

"The approach we have taken is to try to talk to the press and explain how damaging some of these things can be and that is why the Guardian did actually destroy some of the information and disks that they have. But they've now gone on and printed further material which is damaging.

"I don't want to have to use injunctions or D notices or the other tougher measures. I think it's much better to appeal to newspapers' sense of social responsibility. But if they don't demonstrate some social responsibility it would be very difficult for government to stand back and not to act."

So, according to Cameron, "social responsibility" lies in keeping the government's secrets. Bullshit. "Social responsibility" is telling citizens what their government is doing so they can hold it to account. And its telling them what its friends are doing so they can assess whether they really want that sort of relationship with such people. In both cases, transparency increases accountability and democracy. And by opposing it, Cameron has shown that he believes in neither.