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Panama Papers Raise Privacy Issues, Whether This Is A 'New Normal'

A protester in Reykjavik on April 4, 2016 holds up a sign displaying her anger with Iceland's Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson announced he would take a leave of absence after being linked to the Panama Papers.
Art Bicnick
/
Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
A protester in Reykjavik on Monday holds up a sign displaying her anger with Iceland's Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson announced he would take a leave of absence after being linked to the Panama Papers.";

The release of the so-called “Panama Papers” – more than 11 million documents and personal files detailing financial information and offshore accounts of prominent individuals – dominated the international news cycle this week. It’s raised questions about the role of technology and the expectation of privacy.

“We saw this in a different avenue or in a different vein with WikiLeaks and with the [Edward] Snowden affair,” University of Oklahoma College of International Studies assistant dean Rebecca Cruise told KGOU's World Views, referring to the 2013 lead of classified documents by the National Security Agency contractor. “So the technology helps those people that are trying to perhaps do things we wouldn't want to know about, but it also, when into the right hands, is then exposed.”

There are files that appear to link Russian president Vladimir Putin to $2 billion in offshore funds, along with Ukraine’s president Petro Poroshenko and the father of British Prime Minister David Cameron. Cruise says these repeated leaks of sensitive material show how little privacy there still is, which is what the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonesca is focusing on.

“Once this becomes public you lose clients and you lose the availability to provide the services,” Cruise said “And of course people in the governments affected and the citizens affected that have lost out on tax revenue, they're focusing on the other side of things.”

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Brian Hardzinski is from Flower Mound, Texas and a graduate of the University of Oklahoma. He began his career at KGOU as a student intern, joining KGOU full time in 2009 as Operations and Public Service Announcement Director. He began regularly hosting Morning Edition in 2014, and became the station's first Digital News Editor in 2015-16. Brian’s work at KGOU has been honored by Public Radio News Directors Incorporated (PRNDI), the Oklahoma Association of Broadcasters, the Oklahoma Associated Press Broadcasters, and local and regional chapters of the Society of Professional Journalists. Brian enjoys competing in triathlons, distance running, playing tennis, and entertaining his rambunctious Boston Terrier, Bucky.
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