Ends don’t justify means

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Ends don’t justify means

As a controversial association with a scholarship foundation has dogged Park Geun-hye, the presidential candidate of the ruling Saenuri Party, on the campaign trail, suspected spy activity added a new twist to the mudslinging. Representative Bae Jae-jeong of the main opposition Democratic United Party claimed that the Jeongsu Scholarship Foundation, established by Park’s father, strongman Park Chung Hee, with confiscated assets from a businessman in Busan was contacting aides of the ruling party candidate. Park, who headed the foundation for 11 years until 2005, insisted that she no longer has any connection to the organization that owns a 100 percent stake in the Busan Ilbo and 30 percent stake in TV network MBC.

The foundation came under the spotlight with its plan to sell stakes in the media organizations in an attempt to help Park’s campaign. Bae produced a photo of a mobile phone screen showing call records to back his accusation. The phone owner - the foundation’s secretary general - said he left his phone on the desk while trying to turn away DUP representatives and reporters who barged into his office on Monday. Someone accessed his phone while his attention was diverted and secretly took pictures of call records.

Smartphones today have become indispensable and can tell you everything you need to know about their owners. Privacy is constantly at risk in this richly connected and wired world. Activities like peeping into or stealing phones and their information should be the most condemnable infringement of individual privacy.

The DUP is a mainstream party that should stand at the forefront in advocating and protecting individual rights. Even if it is blinded by political interests it must not use illegal means to help its case against the rival party. Even if the information that the foundation was still in close touch with the conservative presidential candidate and her aides is valuable, the party should not have disclosed evidence it obtained by breaking into someone’s phone.

The same party condemned a KBS reporter suspected of wiretapping an office of the party head last year, calling illegal spying a serious threat to democracy. How can it explain itself for resorting to the same unlawful means to obtain evidence to attack and undermine a candidate? It is unclear who got their hands on the phone and how the photo fell into the lap of the DUP representative. The DUP should explain this first. It must answer to the responsibility of violating someone’s privacy. Good intentions cannot justify the means if they are illegitimate and foul.
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