Sleep walking towards Big Brother - Every email and phone call and internet session recorded.

Ministers are to consider plans for a database of electronic information holding details of every phone call and e-mail sent in the UK, it has emerged. - BBC

Read that again, and let it sink in. It's a quote from the BBC whilst The Times adds that "time spent on the internet" will also be recorded.

I once counted that 57 cameras record me on my travel to work (I was very bored) whilst my oyster card/wand tracks tracks me too. The Government being able to trace my every movement has resulted in them also being able to solve 3% of street crime. I've not decided what my views on CCTV cameras are - but at the cost of billions they are, at the very least, an ineffective weapon.

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This doesn't make me feel more secure.

If this new bill goes through once I've been recorded almost 60 times I'll sit at my computer and every email I send and phonecall I make and even every time I turn on my browser will all be recorded too. All added to the database. Before I clock out, head home and get filmed 57 more times.

Or maybe I'll go shopping in one of the shopping centres that use your mobile to triangulate where you are at any given moment and how long you stay and which shops you go to and how often you visit (there is 1 in Portsmouth, with 3 more planned).

On their own you could probably convince me that each one of these is harmless, but this data will naturally converge, copy, intwine and leak. That's what data does.

In my mind this IT bill would be the tipping point that makes the UK an Orwellian police state. Don't get me wrong, A benevolent and just Police state, but one all the same. And once we have that all we need is a maybe two or three decades to pass and a dick to be elected and we will have given him the power to control us. I know that sounds needlessly fanciful, over the top and paranoid. And I know I might seem like a crank for saying this. I don't want to give that impression, but I think our generation are the only ones to really understand the power the IT revolution has to free us - or chain us. And as an astronomer and a scientist, I'm naturally inclined to think about things on long time scales. I don't think we'll walk into 1984 tomorrow, but we do need to get this all straight now, at the dawn of the IT revolution. Rather then wait till it first goes wrong.

We need to be very careful.

But even if your not a pragmatic, paranoid person like myself, then the fact that the Government recently demonstrated how little they understand this modern world by losing 25 million names, addresses, dates of birth, National Insurance numbers and bank details coupled with AOL's search records fuck up (where purely anonymous search records were released - and consequently used to identify numerous people) and you must realise how dangerous this is.

The time for just being disappointed on the internet has past. Don't just moan on some forum, it's time we kicked up a fuss. If you don't like this I strongly recommend you to go to Write to Them, pop in your postcode, and send your MP an email telling him so. It will only take a few minutes and it's all from within your browser.

Why not watch Taking Liberties? Why not look into seeing if you agree with NO2ID, and then, if you do, support them.

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How it used to be.


James said...

I'd never seen the "Secure Fnord Beneath the Watchful Eyes" before. It looks like a parody in very, very poor taste (what's the UFO in the top right-hand corner?). Very scary, all seeing-eye business. Time to get a public key.

Bill said...

Yeah, it's a really weird advert because it seems to be genuinely trying to be like the posters that we all associate with false propaganda and a corrupt government.

Maybe it's being postmodern and self aware. Maybe the artist was rebelling slightly. It's endlessly fascinating.

This one's worrying too too.

James said...

I like that poster, it's about the dumbest thing I've seen today.

"...taking photos [of] CCTV cameras. If you see someone doing that, we need to know." Well don't the cameras work, then? Or don't the operatives believe their eyes?

"Let experienced officers decide what action to take." Oh, yeah, like they did in the Underground that time. Translation: "ESTABLISHMENT KNOWS BEST...KONFORM".

Bill said...

Yeah that advert made me think of trying to organise a day where we all took photo's of CCTV cameras. Not to get them all ripped down, or anything stupid like that, just to highlight how silly the concern over people photographing is getting.

More and more SLR users are getting stopped for having a hobbie. It's a little OTT.

Anonymous said...

"And once we have that all we need is a maybe two or three decades to pass and a dick to be elected and we will have given him the power to control us."

I think that history is with you on that one. I'm trying to think of the differences between this constant monitoring and the Panopticon, I'm not getting very far.

Claire said...

Yikes, that poster scares me. I think I saw it last time I was in London and had a hard time believing it was real. Who on earth thought that was a good idea?

Who is going to listen to or read all our data anyway? Menwith Hill is only so big. ^-^

The only minor (very minor!) comfort in all this is that generally the govt are so inept that ID cards are bound to fail anyway. They'll hand the contract to some rubbish company and the company will fail to deliver and beg for more money, and then the cards won't work...etc. etc.

Hugely expensive waste of time and/or orwellian levels of surveillance.


Jim Reynolds said...

"And once we have that all we need is . . . a dick to be elected and we will have given him the power to control us."

Hello from America!!

Anonymous said...

I brought and watched "Taking Liberties" (it's pretty cheep from it is very well done and deeply chilling. i can't recommend it enough.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for writing this.

Anonymous said...

Anyone notice the flying saucer (top right)? It's there for a reason. Do the research, open YOUR eyes.

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An interesting discussion is worth comment. I think that you should write more on this topic, it might not be a taboo subject but generally people are not enough to speak on such topics. To the next. Cheers

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