Yesterday on my HMRC site I warned of the dangers of Dave Hartnett's (Permanent Secretary for Tax and Commissioner of HM Revenue & Customs HMRC), aspirations for powers for national tax authorities to access data directly on their taxpayers' assets in other jurisdictions.
"I see automatic exchange of information as the benchmark. That is the position which I would like to reach as standard."
Doubtless the "if you are innocent, you have nothing to hide" retort will be used by some (in fact, if you read the comments on the piece, you will see that someone has already made a comment along those lines).
Many will also retort that the majority of people do not have assets abroad, and so why does it matter?
"In Germany they came first for the Communists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.
The they came for the Catholics,
and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant.
Then they came for me,
and by that time no one was left to speak up."
As I noted, granting governments and their bureaucrats the right to such unlimited access to people's private lives gives these governments (and their bureaucrats) quite some considerable power over the individual.
I would also point out that HMRC has been assiduously acquiring ever more intrusive powers (search my HMRC site), both with respect to intrusive capabilities and the power the levy ever higher fines.
For instance did you know that HMRC can, if they so wish, monitor your Oyster card usage (ie they can track where you go)?
Are we really able to trust these governments and their bureaucrats not to misuse this power?
The state should be afraid of the people, not the people afraid of the state.
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