Imperfect order

Friday 28 April 2006 12:43 AM

After the inevitable of exchanges of suspicion, conspiracy theory, political speak, and sundry assurances, perhaps the planned government services smartcard warrants more thoughtful reflection from all sides. For instance not long ago Victoria Police was in damage control mode over revelations of misuse of the LEAP database. Questions persist, and may well be unanswerable. It's hard to imagine any thinking person suggesting that law enforcement or intelligence agencies should not have shared access to information which potentially impinges on public safety and good order. On the other hand, some of the information is undoubtedly of a sensitive and personal nature. 

So concerns about privacy and need-to-know are understandable. Neither liberty campaigners nor public bureaucrats have a simple solution to the most fundamental challenge. We are an imperfect society, comprised of imperfect people. As such fraud, greed, brutality and corruption are inevitable. In such a world, there is no watertight guarantee that private citizens are at all times innocent nor that those charged with delivering order and justice will always do so honourably. We want our privacy protected, but we don't want anarchy. Between the two, some trade-offs are inevitable. We need honest reflection, not alarmist propaganda - from either side.