Latest version of this
17 June 2017
Whether on a weekday or on a weekend, the most observant digital visitors will have already noticed that the privacy provisions within Villa Twaklinilkawt, and throughout the rest of the Adelaidezone, are of a far higher standard than those presently experienced in the rest of Australia and the rest of the world.
Even governmental authorities disrespect privacy from time to time. How, then, can we ordinary people look after our own private information, personal integrity and public reputations in the digital sphere, and in the wider physical and electromagnetic society? How do you look after yours?
The privacy issues of most concern to those of us officially associated with Villa Twaklinilkawt include:
a) Identity theft
b) The potential for home invasion as a consequence of misused private information
c) Misuse of images, for any purpose
d) Threats of blackmail, especially through the distortion of facts
e) Disrespect for copyright
g) Misuse of contact details
h) Damage to reputation
i) Erosion of mental health
j) Known and unknown data breaches
k) Data and data matching not matching reality
privacy reforms in Australia in recent years. Whether they have any merit or effectiveness in this digital age is open to ongoing debate.
The current Australian federal Privacy Act of 1988 now includes a few updates, with thirteen Australian Privacy Principles (APPs).
Australia currently, most fortunately, has a Privacy Commissioner, Mr Timothy Pilgrim. Mr Pilgrim is also the Australian Information Commissioner. Earlier this year, he expressed concerns about breaches of privacy by an Australian government department.
Appropriate laws. Where are they?
The Australian Law Reform Commission reported in September 2014 on its proposed design for a statutory cause of action for serious invasions of privacy. The inquiry also considered how laws could reduce serious invasions of privacy in the digital era. If successful, preventing serious invasions of privacy would be a particularly commendable outcome.
What do you believe to be a serious invasion of privacy and why is it serious?
potential terrorists is another matter entirely. Even so, human dignity should never be eroded in the name of public safety. Most enlightened beings and distressed victims are already well aware of the dangers likely to occur when police and public safety committees overstep the bounds of civility.
In Australia, the recommendations of the 2014 inquiry, while probably a step in the right direction, need much more work if they are to prevent breaches from occurring. Clear definitions are required as to what constitutes private space and private information, particularly between family members and between neighbours. Discussions about privacy in the context of small talk are especially necessary.
A clear definition and description of the reasonable private enjoyment of private space, whether inhabited permanently or temporarily, is also probably necessary. Far too many people, for example, appear to believe real life and reality television are one and the same in the 21st century.
As most enlightened beings are well aware, government inquiries tend to be dominated by vested interests, of both the profit and not-for-profit varieties. More accurately, perhaps, those inquiries tend to be dominated by the highly paid legal advisers of those organisations. The voices of ordinary people are thereby unequally considered in such circumstances. This is especially the case when ordinary members of the public only want to participate anonymously.
What do you believe to be the essential relationship between privacy and anonymity in the digital age?
Here in Villa Twaklinilkawt, we are equally concerned when a journalist or media commentator feels free to publish anyone's private information, regardless of the source. Trial by media is an insidious form of oppression as is the misguided desire for mindless publicity.
If a journalist believes there is a possible crime to be uncovered, that is a matter to shuffle through the legal system, not towards the possibly prejudiced parts of the public. Innocent mistakes and well-meaning incompetence should never be equated with deliberate abuse.
As anyone familiar with the policies espoused through Villa Twaklinilkawt will know, human dignity is just as important to us as national security. That is why Australia's counter-terrorism laws must not intrude upon the privacy of innocent citizens, residents and guests.
Nor should government actions prevent citizens from expressing a recreational, restorative and peaceful desire for anonymity and creativity. Civilisation is always most suitably measured by its creative achievements. Diminishing creativity therefore erodes civilisation.
Alas, an unimaginative political life tends to descend into the morass of superficial spin and publicity stunts. This usually occurs when no-one in a government, or a parliament, is quite sure how - or too lazy to do - their jobs properly.
Reasonable privacy and the art of good government
Good policy in Australia, and anywhere else for that matter, is not made by sitting in a relatively comfortable office, upmarket restaurant or the conference room of a luxury hotel. Such locations are usually situated well away from the truth.
The entire purpose of democratic government is for the state to respond reasonably to people's concerns. Lack of truth is particularly common when a well-paid politician or a well-paid public servant is too frightened or too arrogant to face the public directly.
Privacy is a reasonable expectation, even when a person is considered to be a politician or celebrity. In Australia, it is rare for politicians to be celebrated, of course. Those most desperate for historical recognition will do anything for publicity but very little for the public. The desire for unwarranted publicity has usually been the cause of wars.
In government departments, particularly those most usually associated with distressed members of the public, all senior members of staff, and the ministers most responsible for composing suitable policies, should ideally have a clear, first-hand understanding of the work conducted and orchestrated within the department. They rarely do.
Very few government ministers and senior bureaucrats would, for example, know what it is really like to work in a government department. They have very little idea at all of what it is like for members of the public to interact with that department. The people in charge of government departments therefore do not understand the historical reasons why many people avoid contacting those departments.
Privacy and freedom
Freedom of speech should never equate with intrusions upon privacy and dignity, except in the public interest. Yet defining the public interest is more urgent, at present, than defining privacy, or freedom, or any other debated concept. How do you define the public interest?
Regardless of their ideological preferences, when government ministers and bureaucrats indicate that they really do want to know what is going on within the portfolios for which they have responsibility, they would much rather have an expensive and possibly intrusive inquiry than go out there and find the truth simply, cheaply and directly. Even during investigative processes, ministers and senior bureaucrats put far more emphasis on a non-scientific and pseudoscientific approach to theory than towards knowing the facts in context. Few would have any idea what it is like to work as:
a) Part-time, casually-employed telephone call centre information suppliers
b) Part-time, casually-employed receptionists
c) Part-time, casually employed clerical assistants
d) Unpaid, full-time, semi-visible robots called websites
e) Cleaners, cooks, waiting staff, maintenance contractors and personal care providers
Privacy, justice and the Twaklinilkawtian way
Government ministers and senior bureaucrats apparently forget that all law is merely theory until put into practice. Similarly, they apparently forget that the implementation of programs and programmes will require modifications whenever they do not work as anticipated. Those attempts at practicality will also require modifications whenever they are unjust.
Here in Villa Twaklinilkawt, our research suggests that many employees and contractors stay in anxiety-inducing jobs, in various sectors of the economy, because they cannot find more rewarding work and they urgently need the money. They usually need the money because they have debts and/or inadequate wealth and savings.
The anxiety leads to mental health issues. The mental health issues lead to lapses in decision-making abilities. Poor decisions lead to excessive displays of emotion followed by an apathetic lack of emotion and feelings of numbness and disorientation. Unreasonable withdrawal from society should never be confused with a desire for privacy.
Anxiety is usually a sign of injustice. One of those injustices is inadequate or inappropriate training. Have you ever been trained in ways to reduce your own anxieties?
For anyone with even the slightest interest in public well-being and historically-informed performances, having empathy is essential. That empathy includes an understanding of what it must be like to have an occasional breeches role in an operatic performance, with much spare time in between contracts and many ongoing bills to pay.
Knowing how to handle the difference between a legal travesty, a personal tragedy and an artistic travesti, perhaps even as well as Mr Handel and Mr Mozart, should be an essential prerequisite for anyone in public office. Whether breaches and breeches are associated with musical performances or theatrical performances or lecture tours or scientific expeditions or political decisions, all the persons concerned deserve to be treated with sufficient respect and sensitivity.
Yet sensitivity is rarely considered when journalists pounce on news victims. Low quality journalists seek to tell stories about an 'unfolding drama'. They are apparently hoping for future careers as novelists and scriptwriters rather than as journalists.
Here in Villa Twaklinilkawt, even in the Twaklinilkawtian corridor, the privacy of everyone is obviously important. Regardless of your public renown, or lack of any, you deserve privacy. Indeed, your privacy is equally important in relation to the possible notoriety of your existing public image and media profile.
Privacy, self-respect and good health
breaches a legislated requirement for privacy. But what happens when someone other than an Australian federal government department breaches your privacy?
The main way for ordinary Australian citizens currently to gain redress for breaches of their privacy appears to be through the civil law of tort. Civil proceedings in courts of law are not for ordinary people, however civil those individuals and courts may be. Most people in Australia cannot afford to take cases to court. Neither would many Australians be able to cope with the stress of doing so.
Have you ever experienced post-traumatic stress or another psychologically debilitating condition? Do you have ongoing anxiety from previous intrusions into your privacy, breaches of your personal space, various forms of gossip and other types of rudeness?
There have been many Centrelink privacy breaches recently. There have also been breaches of various Centrelink 'mutual' obligations for some time now.
How many breaches have you experienced in one way or another over your lifetime? What do you believe would have been more acceptable expectations in those situations?
During last year's Australian census debacle, the responsible government minister stated that any data breaches and loss of privacy would be no worse than Facebook. This appears to suggest that when politicians are ignorant of their responsibilities, and seemingly more interested in seeking publicity for themselves and their own opinions, they tend to disrespect the privacy of other people.
What do you believe should be strictly confidential by law?
How do you think about privacy in relation to census processes, birthdays and peace?
How do you think about mental health and peace?
What do you think it means to be truly free?
What do you believe to be media for peace?
How is privacy currently protected by and for citizen-philanthropists?
How are you creating inner peace and world peace?
Would you want your experiences on a privy and/or during psychosis to be presented in a globally-accessible video?
Would you want your previous experiences of degradation to be common knowledge and used to abuse you in the present?
If you do not understand much about privacy issues in Australia, or the privacy issues anywhere else for that matter, especially if you have received no training as a lawyer or psychologist, you may find it useful to read the Wikipedia article on privacy in Australian law.
In attempting to prevent society from descending into chaos, it is important for all citizens to know the difference between a breach of contract, a breach of confidence, utter incompetence and the implied fiduciary duty of governments in democracies to act in the best interests of all citizens and every citizen when collecting and spending public money.
There are many different cultural attitudes towards privacy, as there are with many subjects. Concerns about breaches of privacy usually occur with growing awareness of potential security risks. Some people have more to lose as a consequence of privacy breaches than others do.
Reading the entire Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) report would most likely provide nothing but a feeling of information overload for most people. Essentially, Australians are likely to want to know how they can currently complain, fairly and effectively, to prevent all sorts of breaches. They also want fair and effective deterrents to stop potential wrongdoing in the future.
Do you want to ensure perceptions of your artistic and/or scientific work are not distorted by unendurable prejudices about your ascribed status, a physical disability or a chronic illness?
Do you want to ensure a distressing mental or interpersonal challenge you often face does not prejudice the joyful expression of your talents and/or your ability to earn a living?
Do you want to ensure politicians and bureaucrats are aware that being employed erratically is not a new phenomenon but that it can often be a distressing one?
Do you want do ensure no-one treats irregularly employed persons as if that irregularity is shameful?
Whether irregularly employed persons have legal problems or mental health issues or financial problems or they are participating in training for much of the time or they have a propensity to spend much time overseas on research assignments or performing artistically or visiting family members, their personal situation should not be publicly judged. Nor should it be privately judged and subsequently prejudiced by ignorant individuals.
Matters are made worse whenever journalists, many of whom are clinging to mediocre careers by the tips of their fingers, are ignorant not only of the law but also of human psychology and human history. It is why the avant-garde of Australian journalism, here in Villa Twaklinilkawt, must set the standard.
What do you believe to be a reasonable expectation of privacy?
How do you define privacy?
As the citizen-journalism assistance service here advises, the main duty of journalists and other citizens, at least in a society purported to be free and fair, is to report on evidence of hubris and corruption, particularly political corruption. This is usually only necessary when corruption is inadequately addressed through the law enforcement system.
To prevent the corruption of a law enforcement system, training in intercultural acceptability must be supplied within that system, most likely with outside assistance.
The media in Australia often intrudes into people's privacy. It happens in relation to alleged crimes and during and after court cases. It happens during and after natural disasters, tragedies and other emergencies. It especially happens when journalists, commentators, law enforcement officers, legal practitioners, politicians and entertainers would rather ask intrusive questions than make an accurate analysis of issues in the public interest.
For members of the media to speculate adversely on any person's reputation or private life, without due cause, is nothing less than bullying. The prevention of bullying is meant to be the duty of journalists, not the opposite. The prevention of bullying is particularly the duty of journalists whose work is directly or indirectly funded with public money.
At the other end of the spectrum from bullying is the situation where journalists timidly fail to declare known breaches of public trust by persons with political power. Reasonable public expectations would never make corrupt practices acceptable.
When has your privacy been breached most recently?
When was the last time you wore breeches?
How do you measure reasonableness in private life, community life and political life?
How safe are your savings accounts?
How safe is the Australian financial system?
How well spent are your tax funds and charitable donations?
How do you participate in fair and reasonable deliberations about privacy?
How often have peacefully respectable citizens courteously pointed out a problem or difficulty to someone only to have their comments subsequently reported through the news media as if they had violently slammed an object, a person or an institution? Most peaceful citizens consider wrestling to be vulgar and somewhat brutish. They would certainly not wish to be associated with its practices.
After preventing corruption, a secondary duty of journalists, all around the world, is to report on political incompetence as respectfully as possible. This may sometimes require satire as a means to reform, especially when the line between incompetence and corruption is difficulty to identify without intrusions into privacy.
Public discussion on the definitions of corruption, and the prevalence of corruption, tends to be stifled when the language is either too timid, too vulgar or belligerently aggressive. This is why a gently artistic approach is required.
When the language used by journalists and/or politicians is belligerently aggressive, it stifles intelligent public debate. Indeed, heated language has a tendency to attract the more irascible, vulgar and bigoted sections of society rather than the more thoughtful and relatively informed ones.
Which sort of persons tend to become politicians in Australia? What are the prevailing attitudes of journalists and news editors? And how should the media respond to aggression, timidity and honesty?
When political cultures are corrupt, and media cultures are infested with bullying and belligerence and greed and sleaze, for all the wrong reasons, a society is no longer free and fair. Is Australia currently a fair or unfair a society?
Businesses and charities (and criminals) intrude into privacy when they contact people in unsolicited ways. Politicians and the media do the same, of course. But why does anyone feel they have the right to do so?
Why is gossip so prevalent as a form of entertainment in the 21st century?
Why are scurrilous accusations considered to be news by some of the lesser quality media outlets?
Why is community life imagined by many people as if it is much like the plot of a soap opera or beggar's opera?
Most of us already have more than enough stresses in our lives, from a variety of sources. We certainly cannot afford to pay for court proceedings. There are so many demands on household budgets, and in relation to potential future needs, that no-one can be certain how the government will help in times to come, if it can be bothered to help at all.
In any case, legal proceedings in Australia tend to be incompatible with the desire for privacy, and even with the desire for justice. Seeking legal redress for a serious invasion of privacy would therefore be a no-win situation. Receiving justice is therefore impossible in such circumstances.
Many Australians cannot even afford to pay for advice on simple legal matters. They cannot afford dental care or reasonably suitable housing. At least a digital self-portrait can be easier and cheaper to produce today than in the time of Mr Hogarth. But the same can also be said for copies, of course.
As government activities in Australia frequently intrude into privacy, and into the sensitive emotional lives of citizens and non-citizens, who should the public trust? Who is enlightened enough to defend the public interest sufficiently?
In academia, especially in the social sciences, there are strict rules in place to prevent intrusiveness. Why similar rules do not apply throughout society is a considerable mystery.
Social science is a matter of mutual trust between the observer and the observed. If observed persons receives no benefit from the observer, and vice versa, the data is likely to be corrupted. If a government does little or nothing to benefit the public, what should it expect?
How do you define a serious breach of privacy in relation to offence, distress and other privacy harms?
Without privacy - and courtesy - there is no freedom. Without freedom there is no democracy. Indeed, democracy itself is meant to be an indication of freedom.
Here in Villa Twaklinilkawt, for example, we only use information acquired through social media and private conversations for non-intrusive, philanthropic, informal social research purposes. Our primary aim, indeed our mission, is to help you to make the world a much better place than it would be without you, regardless of your education, prior training and social background.
Political parties and political candidates tend to intrude into privacy for their own benefit, regardless of how enlightened they claim to be. They are mainly interested in their own political power, not the privacy of members of the public. The erosion of democracy tends to coincide with the erosion of privacy.
What is the relationship between privacy and trust, in your view? How do you deal with bullying? How do you prevent your personal life from being turned into a B-movie plot?
To protect everyone's privacy within Villa Twaklinilkawt, all personal details here are usually either transformed into fiction or not mentioned at all. They are certainly not collected and/or stored and/or published in non-fictional formats, except when there is a clear public interest reason for doing so.
My digital name is Reality. I am one of the ordinary, mortal volunteers associated with Villa Twaklinilkawt. I am not a lawyer or an academic though I am, in fact, a tertiary trained social scientist with an international background in the fact-based production of television coverage.
You may already be aware of my fictional duties as one of the official Villa Twaklinilkawt senior communications officers. How do you usually tell the difference between fact and fiction?
Do you sometimes use fiction as a way to protect your privacy? If so, how do you avoid being accused of being sinister or otherwise having selfish motives? What are your philanthropic goals?
Through my own investigations into privacy problems, over many years, I know there are many presumptuous people who make unfair demands. There are even people who make unreasonable requests and unpleasant threats. There are also considerable numbers of people who are known for speaking without first thinking.
Some of those people are irrational. Such individuals may even include past or present members of our own families. They may include people who we once, misguidedly, considered to be friends. They may also be former colleagues or complete strangers who seem to be under the impression that we want to spend time with them.
All details of my own family, as shared through Villa Twaklinilkawt, are fictional representations of significant social and political issues. They are not real representations of living individuals.
We are well aware here of ways to avoid the problems of defamation, fan fiction, real person fiction, historical fiction, pseudo-scholarship and ideologically-based policies. We refuse to co-operate with anyone participating in those problems.
Maintaining the distinction between fact, fiction and privacy is not easy whenever the literacy skills of the visitors here are sometimes, to say the least, inadequate. Maintaining high interpersonal expectations in relation to privacy and courtesy are therefore beyond negotiation here.
Facts of public consequence are presented here primarily through links to the original, published digital documents. Those facts may even be embedded in digital documents from Twitter posts, such as this one:
The communication between the ensemble and Dr Rimmer was initiated by the editor-in-chief of Adelaide Reporting, Fiona Frugal, in relation to the aforementioned breach of privacy by the Australian federal Department of Human Services.
The issue of outrageous lapses in bureaucratic courtesy is of significant public interest, and public concern, especially to self-respecting Australian citizens. The issue is almost as concerning to self-respecting citizens as the seemingly prevalent, greedy, self-serving practices of politicians. Such lapses are deeply disconcerting to investors in Australia and its society. I consider myself to be one of those investors.
A further reason for providing this statement on behalf of the ensemble involves the role of quality journalists and quality citizen-journalists in a civilised, democratic society. The duty of the ensemble is currently to do the respectable local journalistic work once performed as a service to Australian democracy by the now rebellious ABC.
Through my own experiences and observations, privacy is necessary for my creativity and mental well-being to flourish. Intrusions into my privacy prevent my creativity from flowing.
Invasions into my privacy erode my freedom. They therefore make my life less pleasant than it would otherwise be.
Everyone associated with Villa Twaklinilkawt believes it is the duty of respectable journalists to describe all situations accurately. Fiona Frugal is an expert on matters of accuracy and courtesy, hence she has recently been questioning whether Australia is a civilised, democratic society.
In Fiona's view, the means of redress for any sort of wrong, for persons seeking privacy or any other form of justice, is either minimal or not in existence. At the same time, she believes euphemisms are too frequently used to mask and diminish the extent of injustices:
Language tends to be used in gently artistic ways when there is an oppressive threat of being sued for defamation. This is especially the case when relatively wealthy plaintiffs are blatantly corrupt. Their aggressive legal representatives tend to be similarly minded. It is why corrupt practices are most usually, and safely, addressed through art rather than in a direct, factual way.
Journalists tend to use loaded language when seeking to interest the public rather than when serving the public interest. Loaded language tends to defame yet it is rarely deemed a sufficient cause for prosecution.
Journalists use euphemisms when downplaying the legal implications of language. By downplaying the truth, for fear of defamation, they avoid acting in the public interest.
Bias involves the distortion of the public interest. Truth is public life is the essence of the public interest. Truth about private lives is only relevant in journalism when it indicates significant hypocrisy in politics.
As mentioned above, my experiences have not just been as a blogger and privacy monitor, of course. As a female personage with immense maturity, an earlier, international media career, and extensive global travels, I know how necessary it is to maintain the distinction between the public and the private. I also know that there are some crazy people around and many hypocritical ones.
As you may be aware, I currently prefer to write without disturbances. When people ask questions about my private life, and even about my writings, I wonder why they want that information. I prefer to express myself through my published writings, not through other means, at least for the present.
Usually, the people who ask about my private life have little else to say. Their online communications, and their conversations elsewhere, rarely move beyond small talk and their own ill-informed, unrequested opinions.
There is no point in spending time in giving attention to such individuals. I have much better things to do. The mental health and societal peace of Australians, and people throughout the world, is at stake.
For many years, my personal contact details have not appeared in any public listings. I never attend public meetings or accept potentially intrusive media requests. The house in which I live is not registered in my name. I am a silent elector. And I consider myself to be most fortunate to have never suffered any indignities through Centrelink, the media or the legal system.