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From Jeremy Quinn <>
Subject [off-topic] Standards destroy privacy
Date Wed, 29 May 2002 09:56:45 GMT
Dear All,

Sorry about the off-topic message.

In New Scientist magazine this week, there is an article in the 
"Opinion Viewpoint" section by Mike Holderness, entitled "Every 
step you take: Making Government databases fit the best 
standards of compatibility is what will destroy privacy, not 

Date 25 May 2002
Issue 2344
Page 50
It is not on their website yet <>

The highly amusing (but scary) article presents a future 
fictitious scenario where all British Government Department 
databases can be cross referenced, because their idealistic 
technicians have used the kind of XML-based open standards we 
are implementing!

He presents the case that because these databases (Tax, VAT, 
Vehicle licenses, TV licenses, Health etc.) are all implemented 
using incompatible proprietary systems, information about us 
cannot be cross referenced and that this constitutes an 
important safeguard to our privacy (we have no constitution in 
the UK).

How about adding a clause to the Apache License, "This software 
cannot be used to reduce anybody's human rights or civil 
liberties". ;)

regards Jeremy

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