Could it happen here?
A Latvian man has been arrested for hacking into the government’s tax database and revealing the salaries paid to senior government officials.
Latvia is broke. It has had a massive austerity programme and most wages and pensions have been cut (as may well be necessary here…). But the government officials implementing the austerity measures weren’t taking their own medicine – and Neo, the blogger concerned, published the information on Twitter. He’s something of a folk hero in Latvia, but he will face trial.
Hacking into tax databases is serious stuff, but it’s equally unacceptable for government officials to hide their salaries. Neo accessed the tax information of most of Latvia’s citizens, but he only published it about the hypocrites at the top. Still, the case illustrates the sensitive dividing line between privacy and transparency. Even Government officials have a right to privacy; but the level of their salaries should be in the public domain, as it is here in the UK.