When I first wrote about this, I said that if the GCSB pushed the issue then I’d ‘enthusiastically riot’. Well, they have and in the High Court yesterday they won.
Looks like I’m getting dressed for a ruckus, then.
And I mean it. This is a massive issue that strikes at the heart of research, and should concern all of us. Regardless of what you think of Dotcom, and you can see him as the world’s worst villain, you must be able to see that research in sensitive topics will become extremely compromised by this move.
If the transcripts and notes of my book on gangs (and my new work on murder), many of which were highly compromising to some people, were requested from me I would either have to defy the order and go to prison or hand over the information and take the consequences of that.
Hands up everyone who wants to do research now. And if you do, you’ll only be able to do it on uncontroversial topics. Everybody with sensitive information will be too scared to talk. Certainly you will not be able to investigate anything that may involve whistle blowers.
The GCSB may think their stoush with Dotcom is that important to run roughshod over his rights – and appear to have done so – but in this instance it is squeezing the life out of academic inquiry at the same time.
The ramifications of this move should trouble us. It should make us angry. The first thing we can do is express this anger. Write letters, speak to politicians, raise awareness.
In doing these things, let’s hope intelligence wins over intelligence gathering.
If not, my promise of direct action should not be seen as hollow. The freedoms we enjoy were hard fought for. They are worth fighting to protect. The GCSB is meant to protect our freedom; and while they may think they are doing that, they are actually destroying it in the process.