Keeping Panama Papers Secret? Law Firms, Journalists and Privacy

Panama battle looms as HMRC demands leaked data is handed over to pursue tax fraudsters by Alex Hawkes.

From the post:

British tax authorities are heading for a showdown with the media groups behind the Panama Papers exposé, demanding they hand over the cache of documents.

The Government has pledged £10million for a task-force to investigate the Panama data, but it is understood the authorities have so far only managed to get hold of some of the 11.5million documents.

Revenue & Customs told The Mail on Sunday it was ‘determined’ to get hold of the leaked information to pursue criminal investigations against tax fraudsters and would ‘explore every avenue, nationally and internationally’.

t said: ‘While we appreciate that the media is not an arm of law enforcement, given the seriousness of the allegations that they have published and the calls they have made for action to be taken, we would reasonably expect them to co-operate in giving us access to the Panama data.’

The documents were leaked from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca to organisations including The Guardian and the BBC, leading to headlines around the world alleging widespread tax evasion and to calls for a crackdown.

I hate to side with tax authorities anywhere, for any reason, but the Panama Papers should be publicly posted for everyone to see.

The claim that the estimated 400 or so journalists who worked on the Panama Papers have some right to withhold the papers to protect the privacy of those named therein is entirely specious.

If you credit that claim, then you also have to credit the privacy claim of Mossack Fonseca on behalf of its clients, in which case, the journalists should have deleted the files upon receipt.

The point is that secrecy of the files, whether in the hands of Mossack Fonseca or the 400 or so journalists, inures to the financial benefit of those making the claim.

Mossack Fonseca, with privacy intact, could continue to make arrangements beneficial to both its clients and to Mossack Fonseca.

If the journalists are successful in withholding the leaked files, they benefit from mining this treasure trove for who they deem worthy of exposure and not incidentally, making money from their media outlets.

All without anyone holding their reporting accountable as compared to the leaked documents.

Privacy, at least in the Panama Papers case, is about power and benefits from having that power.

So long as Suddeutsche Zeitung and others can dole out snippets and tidbits of information from the Panama Papers, they enjoy the same status as having say the Snowden leaks.

Information is power!

The journalists in question merit kudos for their hard work but being the chance recipient of a leak should not translate into a life long privilege.

Or the ability to dictate unaccountable media coverage based on information the reading public can never see.

Personally I don’t trust governments, based on long experience of journalists demonstrating governments lie, cover up, etc.

Why should I suddenly turn into a gullible Gus when given unaccountable reporting from a news outlet?

If you are going to leak, leak as widely as possible!

I would say leak to Wikileaks but they are as bad as the media about holding information back from the public based for undisclosed reasons.

Where can/should people leak to assure unfettered access to all leaked materials?

I’m asking because I honestly don’t know and have no clue where to start looking.

I have exactly zero interest in empowering anyone as the censor of leaked information.

It leaks, it flows.

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