I was reading my usual Sunday morning SlashDot news (I think it used to be much better) and came across a story about privacy type issues and Lavabit. This particular answer caught my eye and stirred my thoughts. The important point was :
“You have a duty to be honourable and ethical. You have an obligation to do what is legal. They are not the same things.” Jane Q Public
This is not an indictment of some abdication of law, in fact it’s the opposite, laws are good, but when the law is stretched, whether to hide money from the tax man, or to allow security officers to overstep the line of morality, then this is where the law breaks down and obliges us all to ignore our duty.
I think Jane got this 100% correct. We in MaidSafe are often quizzed about similar matters regarding our vision Privacy, Security and Freedom.
Jane has said this much better than I ever had and distinguished the difference between obligation and duty nicely. Although we break no laws and physically or otherwise, cannot hand over any information to anyone regarding our users, it’s still levied at us that we will be helping bad people do bad things. Very few people see that 99.9999% or whatever ratio of people are not bad and education improves this all the time. In my personal opinion greed is every bit as much a problem as terrorism and probably has killed many more people than terror could, notably greed is not illegal.
So back the the crux of the matter, MaidSafe has a Duty to provide Privacy, Security and Freedom, to everyone in the world. It may be legally obliged to do this in a manner that’s conducive of a law abiding company and it does.
It’s also worth noting that people have a duty to others although may be obliged by law to do the opposite, in this case the duty should win, otherwise really terrible consequences will happen. We all have a duty for instance to rush across the busy road to help an elderly person who has fallen, or stop a child wandering onto that road, this overcomes our legal obligation to not jaywalk. The Jaywalker is not a bad guy in this case, but if he was jailed for jaywalking would any of us help him?
In the same vein, if Maidsafe were obliged to weaken our security for any reason then our duty to the world would kick in as it should. I commend Lavabit for carrying out their duty. Sometimes we push the envelope as nations and I believe this is a case where the NSA and others have pushed too far, we should all be obliged to help at times, but when it becomes something in opposition to our duty then the obligation should be resisted.
History does teach us and there are many atrocities that have happened when this is ignored and I will not list them, but we all see where people behaved terribly as a nation against others, because they were obliged to and did so above their duty to humanity.
So MaidSafe has a clear Vision and this vision is also our duty, this will be carried out and I think comments like Jane’s help us remember just how important duty is.