making us unfree

Here’s a recent article by AC Grayling on the government’s latest effort to chip a little bit more away from our freedoms: “In the Queen’s speech this autumn Gordon Brown’s government will announce a scheme to institute a database of every telephone call, email, and act of online usage by every resident of the UK. It will propose that this information will be gathered, stored, and “made accessible” to the security and law enforcement agencies, local councils, and “other public bodies”.”

He says,

“This fact should be in equal parts incredible and nauseating. It is certainly enraging and despicable. Not even George Orwell in his most febrile moments could have envisaged a world in which every citizen could be so thoroughly monitored every moment of the day, spied upon, eavesdropped, watched, tracked, followed by CCTV cameras, recorded and scrutinised. Our words and web searches, our messages and intimacies, are to be stored and made available to the police, the spooks, the local council – the local council! – and “other public bodies”.

[Our politicians claim to be protecting us:] protecting us – by making us all suspects, all potential criminals and terrorists – from terrorism and criminality. Well: the first duty of our politicians should be to protect our liberties, and to encourage us to see that liberty carries risks, which we should be trusted to understand and accept so that we can make our own lives our own way. But no: these politicians – Brown and Labour, once the party of the people – are going to keep us safe by not keeping our liberties safe; they are going to keep us safe by making us unfree. Yet the putative benefit of protecting us from terrorism and crime is unattainable. They themselves say ‘there is no 100% guarantee of safety’: but they are going to spy on us all anyway! In fact they are going to create crime: a huge new criminal industry awaits for stealing, copying, falsely creating and manipulating that newly-created precious commodity, “identity”. A huge new impetus awaits for techno-crime to disrupt the monitoring and data storage systems on which the government intends to spend billions of our tax money, creating its unblinking eye in our bedrooms. As surely as night follows day, the new surveillance society will do more harm than good.

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7 thoughts on “making us unfree

  1. Paranoid and Patronising Nanny State on steroids or what ?

    They would be better spending the money educating civil servants on the dangers of leaving/losing removable storage and laptops in public places.

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  2. Oh no, do come – we can also welcome you with Police Community Support Officers and various other categories of civilians with new powers that only the police used to have, all in the interests of keeping you safe and enhancing social cohesion.

    As reported yesterday, the Police Federation is now calling the scheme half-baked, but after legislation passed in 2002 the drift towards “dispersing” police powers has been quietly going ahead without much fanfare
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/7584112.stm

    Police Community Support Officers have a few weeks of training and some of them have desperately poor knowledge of the law. Remember the street preachers who were stopped in Birmingham recently (https://ninetysixandten.wordpress.com/2008/06/02/police-stop-street-evangelism-in-birmingham/) – that was by PCSOs too. And a related fun video has been doing the rounds lately, again showing people being stopped from doing things that are completely within their rights in the law:
    http://nl.youtube.com/watch?v=RKl2sEN4yNM&feature=related

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  3. It began with ID cards, or more properly the National Information Register. If you’re concerned, it would be No2ID to get behind. This stuff is just further info they want to tie into NIR, the big beastie is the NIR.
    http://www.no2id.net/
    There’s your petition, right there.

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  4. With luck, and watchful people (like Grayling and Cath) to warn us of the more demented initiatives of our benevolent leaders, we can shoehorn some humanity back into the governing of these fine islands.

    So yes, do come. Help us fight the good fight.

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