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Jul 5, 2011

This is what they do

The News of the World hacking scandal just picked on the wrong person. Not rich, not powerful, not political, not privileged, not public. A murdered British schoolgirl.

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Michael Wolff, June 20, AdWeek:

“…this really appears to be an unstoppable thing.

“First, they did it. Boy, did they do it. And then they tried to cover it up. Oh, and it turns out they documented it, too. And then there is the hard-core, bedrock, long-oppressed, anti-Murdoch faction in the UK, suddenly armed with a mighty weapon: a scandal, into its third year, that drips out week after week. There doesn’t seem like any going back to an invulnerable Rupert.”

He’s referring to the News of the World phone hacking scandal. It was unstoppable back then, but not enough to stop Murdoch finally getting the green light from the British government to pursue full ownership of BSkyB.

Hacking hundreds of phones of the rich and powerful in a clear and breathtaking breach of civil liberties may not have been enough to increase public pressure on British politicians, but now … well, if Wolff thought this story was unstoppable before. This scandal just picked on the wrong person.

A 13-year-old, to be precise. Not rich, not powerful, not political, not privileged, not public. A murdered British schoolgirl.

We’re not talking about Sienna Miller any more.

Wolff wrote back in June: “Hacking is not at all an aberration, or a what-were-they-thinking error of judgment and strategy, but an expression of the company’s fundamental identity: it’s not just that they did it, but, more importantly, this is what they do.”

Hack missing 13-year-olds’ accounts. Jeopardise police investigations. Destroy potential evidence. Give false hope to families. The same family who granted a full interview to News of the World at the time of their daughter’s disappearance in a bid to publicise her plight, all the while ignorant of the fact the paper was listening in on their daughter’s phone.

This is what they do.

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