Transparent Bullsh*t

There are a number of fashionable words to be on the lookout for. Reason is that, when you run into them, you’re probably being flummoxed.

The reigning king of these sleigh-of-tongue devices is “transparency”. Now, this has an intuitive conceptual meaning along the lines of “We have nothing to hide here”. Unfortunately,  a deeper, functional reality usually prevails. It usually plays out something like this: “We [sincerely]want to appear to be conducting ourselves openly [honest!]; we’re [really] working at it; get back to us [in a while]”.

Incrementally, you’re moved from getting an answer to being put on a waiting list for a process to run its course. Process,  of course, is infinite, particularly where government and regulatory agencies are concerned. Translation: “transparency” will never arrive.

It’s ironic that the supposed difficulty with transparency is often cited to be…..privacy. In other words, to give you the answer to an inquiry would violate someone’s right to privacy. Sounds reasonable, except for one little quirk: There is no legislatively-enshrined right to privacy anywhere. Oh sure, there’s lots of legislation out there with the word “privacy” in the title, just no actual defined individual guaranteed right to it.

This probably sounds shocking. We hear all the time how this government or that organization is striving to “protect” your privacy. And, yes, there is a developing body of common law on privacy in a criminal law context. But a right to privacy is a far different thing than policies concerning privacy, especially since policies are, by and large, whatever some amorphous body of policymakers of the moment say they are, subject to change with zero notice.

Most of the time, privacy policy is dragged out front and center not to protect an individual, but to insulate against organizational failings, shortcomings or incompetence. It’s a convenient dodge. So, when you hear both these words in future, give some thought to whether the emperor (transparently) has no clothes (or privacy).

This entry was posted in Thinking out loud. Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.