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Ethical Relativism- Sky News Morphs into Anonymous? April 5, 2012

Posted by Chris Mark in Industry News, InfoSec & Privacy, Laws and Leglslation.
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By now most are probably aware of the email hacking scandal that severely damaged Rupert Murdoch’s NewsCorp empire.  NewsCorp reporters were caught illegally accessing phone calls of the UK Royal family and hacking into email accounts of individuals.  Murdochs’ son had to resign from his position as Chairman of BSkyB which own UK’s Sky News.

According to a report on CNN this morning UK news channel Sky News said Thursday it had authorized its journalists to hack into the e-mail of individual members of the public on two occasions.  The very same people (journalists) that will scream for “freedom of speech” and “freedom of the press” and claim journalistic integrity are now violating the public’s privacy in a scramble to maintain market share and increase revenue? 

John Ryley, head of Sky News, said the instances involved suspected criminal activity. “We stand by these actions as editorially justified and in the public interest,” he said in a statement. “We do not take such decisions lightly or frequently.”

One case was that of Anne Darwin, he said. The British woman’s husband faked his death on a canoe trip in order to falsely claim life insurance payments. Sky News then passed the e-mails to the local police force, he said. “Material provided by Sky News was used in the successful prosecution and the police made clear after the trial that this information was pivotal to the case,” Ryley said.

All I can say to this is WOW!  So a news corporation violates the privacy of individual citizens by committing a crime and then justifies the action by claiming that the act was in the “public interest”.  More interesting is why the police, after receiving the illegally obtained evidence, did not arrest those responsible at NewsCorp?  Additionally, if the evidence was obtained illegally it would seem that it could not be used in a Court of Law (fruit of the poison tree, etc.)

It is clear that SkyNews’ objectives were not purely altruistic.  They published a detailed article on Anne Darwin 4 years ago.  The information used for the article was obtained through hacking Ms. Darwin’s email.

If we believe what SkyNews says now, then it has morphed into a hacktivist organization.  This sets a dangerous privacy precedent.  If someone illegally accesses data they can simply say it was “in the public interest”.

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1. Security, Privacy and/or Risk Management Consultants | JobDesk.ORG - April 8, 2012

[…] Ethical Relativism- Sky News Morphs into Anonymous? | Global … […]


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