Tomorrow's scandals, today

Britain's phone-hacking scandal is a rebuke for yesterday, warning for tomorrow

You didn't have to listen in on anyone's conversation to know this just wasn't going to happen.


No one in his right mind would agree to allow a company involved in the world's most notorious phone-hacking scandal to take control of Britain's biggest satellite broadcaster.

Mercifully, international media magnate Rupert Murdoch Wednesday pulled the plug on his intended acquisition of BSkyB -- after an explosion of outrage over his newspapers' apparent high-tech spying on celebrities, politicians and even crime victims.

Murdoch had already shuttered his weekly at the heart of the roiling scandal, News of the World, as of Sunday, turning off the lights at the largest-circulation English-language newspaper in the world.

In short, it's come out that agents for Murdoch's newspapers in Britain had hacked into private cell phones -- perhaps illegally, absolutely unethically -- in a sociopathic hunt for big scoops.

The allegations comprise not only one of the most egregious media scandals in history, but also a cautionary tale for modern man.

It's a long-needed rebuke of bygone British-style tabloid "reporting" that respects neither individual privacy nor professional standards. Nor, at points, has it respected the truth, necessarily.

It's of note that in the United States, where the First Amendment grants the media even broader rights and protections than the tabloids of London enjoy, we've never seen such a wanton contempt for individual privacy.

Yet, this is more than a tale of Media Gone Wild. It's a frightening parable of the pitfalls mankind faces in the dawn of the 21st century. You have to believe nothing is truly private in e-mails and cell phones -- though you should have the right to expect it.

Moreover, it's important to note that today's technologies have made it possible for anyone and everyone to be CIA agents of a sort. In the future, spy scandals may be less common among governments than companies.

We can thank the fine folks at Murdoch's News International for bringing that sad day forward.



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