A worried email about the Smoky Drinky Bar this morning served to concentrate my thoughts on matters of privacy therein. The author, who will remain nameless, expressed a concern that if video recordings of the bar should be made public, their identity might become known to Tobacco Control in their country, and they might well suffer unpleasant consequences. He (or perhaps she) wanted an assurance that in no circumstances would his/her face ever appear in a YouTube video of it.
And I feel able to give that assurance. I have so far recorded very little of the Smoky Drinky Bar, for use primarily in advertising it. And I have now decided that I will not record any more. And should, for some reason, I feel it necessary to record, I will only do so with the participants prior permission (which is what I have anyway done).
For I now think that for the purposes of the quite separate Smoky Drinky Blog, on which I keep YouTube videos, I will only be wanting to record and publish one-to-one interviews with people who are fully aware that this is happening. And I won’t be doing any one-to-one interviews in the Smoky Drinky Bar: I’ll almost certainly do them all on Skype, which is more suitable for the purpose.
However, while I won’t be recording the Smoky Drinky Bar, other participants are perfectly able to do so. And so I wish to place the same embargo on them: please do not record or publish any of the transactions inside the Smoky Drinky Bar. It should remain a place where people feel able to speak freely (although of course the NSA and GCHQ and KGB will probably have recordings of the entire proceedings to date, and into the foreseeable future).
Personally, I’m completely indifferent to whether anything happens to me here in the UK. Maybe one day I’ll be bundled into a van, and taken somewhere for hours of excruciating interrogation, prior to being put up against a wall and shot. But my view is that, at the age of nearly 70, I’ve pretty much lived my life already, and I have very little to lose. So I don’t really care what the fuckers do.
But other people may not have the same outlook, and their wishes for privacy need to be respected.
The matter of privacy goes further than recording and publishing videos. A lot of people use nicknames or handles, and then quite often reveal their true identities in spoken conversation. But if someone’s name is subsequently made public, this provides an even easier way to identify them and find them.
The same applies with addresses and occupations and other personal information.
So I would ask participants in the Smoky Drinky Bar to not ask too many questions of each other, and be understanding when some people show a certain reticence in answering certain kinds of questions.
And if some participants wish to keep their faces darkened or concealed, that also should be accepted.
I think that I personally will adopt the practice of always referring to people by whatever name they originally used for themselves, before they gave their real name. Thus although I believe I know the true name of Nisakiman, I will not use it. Same with Legiron and several others.
All this might seem a little bit cloak-and-dagger. But we all recognise, I hope, that we are living in extraordinary times, and that our enemies in Tobacco Control are a very, very nasty bunch of people indeed. They demonstrate this almost daily. If nothing else, they wish to control us. And controlling people may easily extend to imprisoning or murdering them.
These people have a lot to lose. At the moment they may well be in control (as they want to be), but one day I think they’re going to lose control. And when that happens, we are likely to find out just how nasty they are.
And here’s the Rolling Stones’ entirely apposite Fingerprint File. I’m not generally much of a fan of the later post-Brian-Jones Stones’ music. But this one is an exception.
P.S. It’s been pointed out to me that I have been myself guilty of several of the improprieties which I’m now condemning. In my defence, I can only plead that it has only been today that I have given these matters any serious thought. I rather suspect that I shall have to give it more thought in the future.