Monday, 29 November 2010

Taking a leak

Information is power. How often have we heard that? If it's true, then leaks are power diluted. But whose power, and whose information are we talking about here? When is it acceptable for information to enter the public domain, and when not? Is it, frankly, all about perception?

Today, we ask a taxing but, some might say, pertinent question: When is a leak not a leak? Or rather, when is your information my information, my information your information?

Here are one or two examples that'll help guide us through this informational conundrum...

Discretion - "Not in front of the children." Timeless! This occurs when couples discuss who they're shagging on the side. It could be a case of: "I only slept with Doris when I discovered you were screwing your personal trainer, darling." It makes sense to keep these discussions out of earshot of interested parties - if only because they won't stay interested for long, and might start testing the waters themselves.

Marketing - Never tick the box that says: "Yes I'd like my personal information to be distributed to affiliate companies." It'll simply encourage those companies to contact you by phone, Internet or junk mail.

Social Networking - Yep. It's not a good idea to sign up to websites that record personal data (though, hundreds of millions of gullible fools do precisely that). We know this data might be turned to all kinds of unscrupulous ends, like, contacting you by phone, Internet or junk mail. This data might also be passed on to "government agencies" that'll use them for their own, clearly, benign purposes.

Kiss and Tell - When is it okay for information to be out in the public domain, courtesy of someone who slept with someone famous? When, of course, it relates to a celeb, a pop star, footballer, or even, God forbid, a politician! Information like this, concerning public figures - or public bodies for that matter! - has to be revealed, if only to counter the twisted, manipulative garbage that PRs put out about their clients' own perfect, charitable and pristine lives (Malaria, racketeering etc. notwithstanding).

Information designed to mislead and manipulate (cf. kiss and tell, above) - Examples? A politician claims to be giving something back to society, when he's actually taking backhanders. Or a starlet presents a semblance of purity and chastity, when in fact she's shagging her crack dealer. However this kind of misinformation hardly ever occurs in reality because, as we know, ALL public figures are beautiful, benign, sublime, radically gorgeous individuals who only achieve success through hard work, good deeds, clean living and a heartfelt desire to help others (shallowness, vulgarity, ruthlessness, tax avoidance, suspect expenses claims, serious drugs and alcohol misuse notwithstanding).

Databases - Government of the people by the people for the people should never lose sight of the need to control the information of the people by the government for the government. What's the point of government otherwise?

Taking the piss - This occurs when those not authorised to control certain types of information leak that information to those not authorised to be a party to it (i.e. the people). We all know the saying, don't we boys and girls? "Those who can, do. Those who can't... leak?"

Don't we?

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