Modern privacy law was invented over a century ago in the United States, was re-discovered in post-war-Europe, and is now spreading around the world. Privacy laws have historically been built on three foundations: 1) democracy, 2) rule of law, and 3) respect for fundamental human rights.
So, what should we make of the fact that a rogue's gallery of autocratic countries, with neither rule of law, nor respect for fundamental human rights, are starting to pass privacy laws?
Take the example of Russia. Last month, at the same time that Putin's regime ratified an international framework of privacy law, known as Convention of Europe 108, it also launched its war on gays.
Why would Putin's regime ratify a privacy law, while subverting democracy, subverting the rule of law, and inciting vicious homophobia as official policy? Is it just to distract an ignorant electorate from the Kremlin's kleptocracy? How exactly is the International Olympic Committee going to deal with Sochi? Should Russia or Russian products be boycotted by people of conscience? I don't want to see the world's athletes held hostage to this, but nor do I want to see them march under the salute of Putin, recollecting those tragic Games in Berlin.
What, I wonder, does a privacy law mean in this context? And if you think all this is just Russian thugocratic posturing, imagine if your gay teenage son were Russian. I dare you to click. I doubt this tortured teen will find redress under Russia's ratification of privacy laws, do you?