The news of the world scandal and the Australian privacy debate
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If the News of the World scandal had been pitched to British television as a possible drama mini-series, it would have been rejected as unbelievable. Who would take seriously such a web of collusion, deceit and illegality involving the senior staff of the world's dominant media mogul, a series of British Prime Ministers, senior Scotland Yard police and reporters who followed the ethical principles of the 16th century Italian philosopher Machiavelli that the ends justify the means? You couldn't make it up and make it sound believable. It is just the sort of story that News of the World would have delighted in splashing across its front page.
While worldwide media attention focussed on the unravelling of The News of the World through a series of repulsive revelations in July 2011, it also drew further attention to criticism of the Rupert Murdoch dominated print landscape in Australia and led to renewed calls for another inquiry into media regulation and into media invasion of individuals' privacy.
In damage control moves in the wake of revelations in the multi-facetted scandal, News of the World was closed down, Murdoch publically apologised in British papers and his UK-based corporation, News International, abandoned attempts to take over the Pay-TV company BSkyB.
At the time of writing (late 2011) there were still almost daily revelations on various aspects of the scandal. It is a complex web of interrelated strands affecting the future of News International and reverberating around the Australian-born media mogul's global empire. Arrests associated with the scandal had reached into the teens and included senior police and some of the most powerful figures in Murdoch's UK operation.
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