Sunday, February 08, 2009

Surveillance State - What next?

The first of the latest warnings about threats to personal liberty and freedom came on Friday 6 Feb 09 with the 'Electronic surveillance and collection of personal data' information from the House of Lords. Civil liberties campaign group Liberty have said that abuses of power have meant that "even the innocent have a lot to fear" and that the proposed database to store e-mails and phone calls is giving the government. Said database has been put on hold after these were branded 'Orwellian' but there have been further thoughts about how to initiate it in the near future. For further information on this see the BBC News page

A lot of the complaint comes from the misuse of CCTV data just to convict people who allow their dogs to foul the pavement (sidewalk, for the American readers) or littering - rather than for crime fighting. We, in the UK, have the highest density of CCTV cameras in Europe with an estimated four million cameras.

Security camera at London (Heathrow) Airport. ...Image via Wikipedia

The latest (08 Feb 09) joke comes from the fact that the government is compiling a database 'to track and store the international travel details of millions of Britons'. "Computerised records of all 250 million journeys made by individuals in and out of the UK each year will be kept for up to 10 years." To read more on this see the BBC News page

This information will include names, addresses, telephone numbers, seat reservations, travel itineraries and credit card details of travellers. It will probably also include details of who you are travelling with and where your eventual destination is located.

While I understand the perceived need for screening passengers and checking these against criminal lists, I do wonder why the government wants to set up a database of travellers and keep these records for ten, or more, years and at what financial cost to the country and what personal cost to the individual.

Orwell had it right - Big Brother really is watching you, pass my bottle of gin please.

I called this a joke but there really isn't that much to laugh about.

Take care and try to avoid the cameras.

Love to all, Ainsley

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