Richard Moore: Voicing concerns over Big Brother

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Big Brother is out there and is watching you.

You may laugh but, in these digital days, there are companies and government agencies with more information about you than you would realise.

It could be CCTV cameras in city streets or shopping malls, personal details revealed when dealing with bureaucrats, deals between banks and the Internal Revenue Department, using your credit card or signing up to things such as Facebook or Hotmail.

How about the new push by Facebook to get you to authorise them to use your mobile phone number for various "benefits"?

It says: "Please review the phone on your timeline to control who can use your phone number to look you up. Visit your privacy settings. Your phone number helps you log into your account if you ever lose your password, helps friends find you, helps us show you relevant ads, and more."

Well that's a sell, isn't it. Gee, please send me some more ads, that's what I head online for.

And I get nervous about Facebook owning a massive collection of mobile phone numbers. One of the great things about mobiles is that the numbers are reasonably secret and only those you choose to give them to have access to them.

You really need to be very aware about who, and what, you give away.

Now let's take the tax department.

I have no dramas with any of the information the taxman has about me. He knows where I work, my various business activities and what I earn.

That's cool, because at the end of the tax year I don't have to wade through my bank accounts to find out how much interest I have earned, or what my salary was through the year - I just need to phone the old IRD and they have it all for me. Brilliant.

I had reason to call the taxman last week as I was doing GST for one of my companies and they have changed the system.

The very pleasant taxgal organised the activation - which was fine - but then asked something that chilled my blood.

"Now I can record your voice patterns for voice ID."

"Ummmmmm ... what?"

"Record your voice patterns."

"Ah, no thanks, goodbye."

I don't know about you guys, but when a government department wants voice patterns, alarm bells sound like tsunami warning sirens.

As said, I'm happy for the taxman to know all my financial details - but recognise my voice?

Why would they want that?

Remember, if you're not paranoid ... they'll get you.

What a pack of job Nazis we have living in Tauranga.

I cannot believe my eyes each time I read a letter from someone saying that three old blokes working at Bunnings are greedy and selfish and are taking jobs from other people - particularly the young.

Where do these people get off?

Here we have a trio of post-retirement age guys who are working and are, presumably, doing a good enough job for them to stay employed.

Good on them.

They are not taking jobs from anyone, as is alleged, because they have earned and are earning their positions.

Why on Earth should they not work? Are these moaners saying that once you hit a certain age you should pass your job over to someone else?

Mature workers are generally better at their jobs. They are more reliable, bring life skills to the workplace and have a good attitude.

Ask supermarket managers the percentage of young workers who take Sundays off after a big Saturday night and you would be horrified at the response.

Yes, young people need a chance to work and, yes, they need experience. There are some fantastic teenage staff out there who grab their opportunities and run with them.

And that is what society is about. Fighting to succeed (to get a job) and then proving how deserving you are of it.

Too many people, including the anti-oldies, want things handed to them - or their children - rather than doing the hard yards to achieve success.

To the old blokes at Bunnings - well done, sirs. Ignore the job Nazis, I say.

I am so very pleased that New Zealand has seen fit to recognise the courage of the Afghans helping its forces against the Taleban by offering them refugee status.

That means these exceptionally brave interpreters and others will be able to come to these shores if they wish to, rather than face the vengeance of the brutal group that is quite happy to shoot schoolgirls.

They and their families should be welcomed as honoured newcomers to this land.

richard@richardmoore.com

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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