Monday, April 01, 2013

Peace really isn't our profession, and intrusion into your private world our very own do gooder right ...

It being April 1st, the pond was quivering with awareness, preternaturally alert to any suggestion of a leg pull.

Paul Sheehan is always a wag - who could forget his high comedy about magic water - so Designer knockoffs have had their day had to be approached with extreme caution.

Luckily it turned out to be a fatuous, self-revealing bit of nonsense of the usual Sheehan kind involving knock-offs of fashion goods.

Sheehan's ultimate revelation about capitalism?

You may also ask, if goods can be sold at a fraction of the price of big-name brands and still earn a profit, that means the big-name brands are over-priced merchandise? Well, yes. But have you seen the rents that Frank Lowy and his boys charge in Westfield shopping malls?

So a rip off justifies a rip off, and the stupidity of eastern suburbs fashionistas makes over-pricing an acceptable thing in Sheehan's world?

Well yes, because otherwise you couldn't drool over exceptional sourdough to be found nowhere but Paddington.

Next week, Sheehan rants about the evils of the minimum wage, and unionism, while celebrating the price of Fabergé eggs and the market value of Hermes.

Moving along, there being nothing to see there, the pond immediately went on another alert.

There was a story doing the rounds that animal libbers would use drones to check up on farmers.

Now the use of drones is one of the great ethical questions of the day, one routinely avoided by the White House as it goes about the business of killing and maiming by drone.

The temptations of drones are strong - even Kenneth Ross thinks they're handy while worrying about the current rules that govern their use, in What Rules Should Govern US Drone Attacks?

Ross ends up in a somewhat feeble, half-baked, hand-wringing position, aware that one day the US might be droning away in Pakistan, and the next a terrorist might be droning away in Las Vegas:

Any program that kills on the basis of secret intelligence risks abuse. The administration could go a long way toward minimizing the possibility of illegal killings—and discouraging others from acting in kind—if it explicitly recognized clear limits in the law governing drone attacks and allowed as much independent consideration of its compliance as possible.

In the United States, the use of drones to survey the citizenry is a hot button issue, with the likes of Boeing's role being scrutinised by both right and left (Boeing Helps Kill Proposed Law to Regulate Drones).

Israel has been a big proponent of drone technology, as you'd expect of a repressive theocratic far right wing government verging on a police state, but even in dull old Ottawa, the Ottawa Citizen ran an AP piece under the header Drones poised for peaceful, everyday use in US, but privacy backlash could hamper industry.

None of this seems to have been given a second thought by Animal Liberation, eager to go into print with news of how Drone will range freely over farms to keep tabs on animal welfare.

A spokesman for the group is quoted as saying:

Mr Pearson said the drone would not just be used to gather evidence of illegal cruelty, but would also film some routine, legal farm practices that might upset non-farmers. ''We're not interested in what farmers may be doing in their daily activities, and I completely respect people's privacy,'' he said. ''But there are lots of cases where farming activities cause horrible distress to animals, mulesing being a common example. People are entitled to know and see what's going on. 
''So, even if it is lawful, if we think the public is going to be outraged or if we think they need to be informed, we will show it.'' (see also I spy with my little fly ... animal cruelty, forced video at end of link).

Roll that one around on your tongue: I completely respect people's privacy.

Yes, and peace is our profession, mass murder is just a hobby, and killing for peace is like whoring for virginity. (Murphy's Law of Combat Operations).

So how did the privacy people respond, in a vigorous April Fool's day way to vigilantes exposing lawful activities of people going about their daily business, provided the lawful activity is likely to outrage the public?

The Australian Privacy Commissioner, Timothy Pilgrim, has said ''the potentially intrusive nature of the technology'' meant there should be a public debate about regulations covering drone use. 

Oh forcefully put, Mr. Pilgrim.

Somehow thoughts of the Duke came to mind, what with him saying  courage is being scared to death, but saddle up anyway pilgrim ...

Or some such thing, designed to cover a man saying nothing about a key issue in his portfolio, except to make a poignant plea for public debate.

Drone use isn't potentially intrusive. By its very nature it's intrusive, especially if the drone is carrying more than a camera and a cheesy smile. A bomb going off tends to be highly intrusive.

The question then is how the intrusiveness is handled, regulated and allowed, and what righteous business qualifies for the right to invade privacy, from camera to bomb.

Like anyone obsessed with a special interest, Pearson isn't interested in subtlety or nuance, as quoted in Animal Liberation spying drones attract ire of farmers:

The drone films about 10m off the ground and records evidence of any abuse or unsafe practices without breaching privacy laws, Animal Liberation spokesman Mark Pearson said. "If there is public interest, then that is not an invasion, it is a service to the community," Mr Pearson said yesterday. 
 "The High Court has already dealt with the issue of privacy."

Which, to put it politely, is specious claptrap.

The question of privacy is, and always has been, a moveable fest, as this backgrounder notes in A common law right to privacy for Australia?

One thing's for sure. Wild cat vigilante operations will eventually force other interested parties to consider the right to privacy, especially if a farmers' group decides to use drones to spy on animal liberationists ...

The pond isn't comfortable being out and about in company with libertarians, but one day it might be animal warriors, the next day, the police, ASIO, councils checking on blackberry infestations or parking in front of the pond's house, the state and federal governments, and anybody else who's got a lazy 15k and a half-assed operator and a grudge and the capacity to yabber on about the public interest ...

Why Hermes might even mount a case that it needs to keep a drone on standby to monitor the sale of fake handbags in the eastern suburbs ...

Now the tensions have already escalated, as reported in Animal welfare group to monitor farms with drone, with David Warriner, head of the Northern Territory Cattleman's Association, taking a view:

"I'm not worried about the monitoring of animal welfare situation - we're quite confident that we do a pretty good job of that," he said. 
"But it's an invasion of privacy. How would these people like if we had drones flying over their house?" 
He says farmers would not put up with drones that could hamper helicopter operations on outback stations, and disrupt livestock. 
Mr Warriner says he expects some farmers would shoot down the drones. 
"It's very dangerous and I would also say that if it's going to be within 10 metres of livestock it's going to cause a lot of disturbance, and we would certainly object to it on those two bases," he said. 
"It wouldn't surprise me if someone had a crack at one that was annoying them. They would I reckon."It wouldn't be hard to shoot a drone down with a shotgun, would it?"

They've already shot down animal-related drones in the United States, with 'shooter' vigilante v. 'animal rights' vigilante indulging in turf wars, both sides quoting rights, and hovering in the background, fear of ubiquitous, uninterrupted government surveillance ...

That's the question about government asked in Can U.S. Citizens Shoot Down Domestic Spy Drones? Question Looms ...

The United States has theoretical protection in the form of the fourth amendment:

        The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against           unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. 
       The important phrasing there is "unreasonable searches", which many would argue would include continuous drone surveillance.

Australia lags far behind the United States in relation to privacy issues, but up to now, had also lagged behind in relation to the use of drones, and the temptation to deploy them to serve ideological or political purposes.

Thanks to animal liberationists, people might now be offered a little more than nervous nelly fatuous statements about the right to privacy ...

Especially when the first farmer is filmed having it off with his wife on the front lawn while taking time off from his animal welfare duties, his carefree copulation captured on camera by those valiant animal lib warriors ...

Privacy? We care for your privacy?

Make sure you only fuck in a coalmine or in the bedroom with the curtains drawn really tight, so a nano drone can't get inside .... while its operator yabbers on about the rights of animals, while ignoring the rights of animals to have a quiet fuck in peace ...

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