Dave Tacon and Tom Hyland have an article in The Age about interactions Julian Assange had with film maker Richard Lowenstein in 1994. What I found particularly interesting in the article was Assange’s statements about privacy. The following exchange took place after Assange reportedly was annoyed with Lowenstein for revealing some of what he had told him “on background” and his retaliation by revealing some of Lowenstein’s personal information in a forum Assange ran:
But at the time, Lowenstein wrote back: ”It is a bit disturbing to find out that there is no concept of privacy at Suburbia.” Assange wrote back that if Lowenstein wanted privacy, he should encrypt his messages.
”Privacy is relative,” Assange wrote. ”We run perhaps the most private multi-user computer system in the country. Nearly every piece of information can be obtained, depending on how many resources and/or time you want to expend obtaining it. I could monitor your keystrokes, intercept your phone and bug your residence. If I could be bothered.
”As one who’s has [sic] one’s life monitored pretty closely, you quickly come to the realisation that trying to achieve complete privacy is impossible, and the best you can hope for is damage control and risk minimisation.”
In his defence, Lowenstein reiterated that had Assange stated his conversation had been off the record, he would have honoured that.
Assange replied: ”I do not doubt your reasons were not malicious. Stupidity, ignorance and lack of respect come to mind. You seem to think I have only one life. I have many – and it would be very bad indeed if each knew what the others were up to.”
The Age headlines the article, “Portrait of the hacker as a paranoid and secretive young man.”
Is trying to protect one’s privacy as best one can in an age where everything can be acquired really “secretive” or “paranoid,” though? Isn’t it just prudent?