As predicted, the Data Protection/Espionage saga is on the fast track to nonsensical argumentation. The PN clan, headed by Paul Borg “in my defence” Olivier, are adamant to point out that the PL’s hands are just as filthy with the dirt and muck of playing around with citizen’s information in full violation of the Data Protection Act. PBO is also heavy on the denial business, strong on the heels of the last PN head to be in the spotlight – that jack of all trades JPO. He insists that a proper reading of the email would clearly show whoever is willing enough to suspend belief for a brief moment that the PN is not being given any information by the government. Nope. The secretary general of the Nationalist Party only meant government employees on government time to show them what a lovely Excel sheet those brilliant chaps in PN R&D had created. It was there for the taking – why not adopt it for use in government departments too? That way we help Dr Gonzi get a bit off his back. Reputable columnists (I admit I use the word reputable liberally nowadays) like Bocca seem to buy this line of thought.
Bollocks. ABC goes so far as to imply that it is normal for governments and parties to share information. In a Banana Republic? Of course it would be in a banana republic. There you have it gents and ladies: the PL and the PN will not attempt to hide the fact that they dabble in your private information and collect and process data without your permission for purposes you would never have fathomed exist in a liberal democracy. Now the old guard columnists will even try to tell you it’s bloody normal. You’d have to be stupid if you were the party in government and did not use the mine of information at your (the government’s) fingertips. Well, not exactly. I agree that the temptation is there (to use the info to the party’s advantage) – you are not stupid if you contemplate using it. You are stupid if you get caught using it and even stupider if you email that kind of information straight to the lap of the opposition.
Here’s Paul still trying his luck (on Sunday):
PN General Secretary Paul Borg Olivier said this morning that he had written to the Data Protection Commissioner asking him to investigate the way the PL was collecting information about the people, particularly information which was health-related.Dr Borg Olivier, reacting to the current controversy over an e-mail he had sent to ministries about data sharing, insisted that he had nothing to be ashamed of. The PN, he insisted, had a duty to ensure that the government remained close to the people and that all people – whatever their political colour – who complained to ministries were heard and their complaints were acted upon. Similarly, should anyone complain to the Nationalist Party, the party had a duty to give that information to the government and expect it to be acted upon. The people had to come first.
And we thought JPO was good at keeping a straight face (or letting lose a tear or two!)