Monday, August 04, 2008

Trade Me

I have found the recent reports on my friend's disclosure amusing and distressing. Amusing, because the fears trotted out in the media are so far from reality. I've met most of the defendants; I know some of them well. I can guarantee that none of them are racing through the 25,000 pages of disclosure hoping to find trade me details. Even if they had that much spare time, I don't think any of them urgently need My Little Pony books.

Distressing, because the media have such a distorted image of the investigation. The Trade Me search was clearly a fishing expedition, given the number of accounts they got. The breach of privacy was the police's fishing expedition, rather than the release of this information to defendants.

The trade me accounts are the least of it. Even the leaked affadavit has names, phone numbers, addresses and text messages of dozens of people. The investigation went much further than the affadavit. The police invaded hundreds of people's privacy as they read their text messages and listened to their conversations. The warrants for all this were obtained under the Terrorism Suppression Act, to support charges that were thrown out as soon as they were tested. But the media don't worry about those people's privacy. Most of the people investigated as part of Operation 8 (the police's name for their giant fishing expedition) were Maori; all the trade me users on TV3 last night were white. Notions of who is an innocent victim, and who deserves to have their personal life dredged up by the police are pretty revealing.