THE DIARY OF A GEEK IN OXFORDSHIRE


"Solving the World's problems with satire and a smile.*"

*And a flamethrower.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Next Step - The Thought Police?


The Database State looms ever larger, despite misgivings of the few (relatively) honest MPs and the best efforts of David Davis MP.

Quote from 'The Independent': "officials are concentrating on capturing huge amounts of so-called "communications data" – background information about when and to whom electronic and phone messages are sent."

Amazingly, the Goonverment have even managed to get the Sandalistas at the Grauniad up in arms on this, with their article titled 'New powers for state snoopers on the net'.

Now of course, Thought Police Chief Home Secretary Jacqui Smith is at pains to point out the need for proper legal safeguards, there are some very scary points to what is being proposed.

The term being used (according to the Guardian) is "communications data", which identifies the location and name of the person making the communication but not the contents of their calls or messages. OK, fine and dandy. Except it's not.

With the ever-increasing amount of data the Government holds, it's no leap of imagination to go from location (or IP address) to account details, to home address, bank accounts, Passport details and CCTV images of where you were standing when you made the call. Anonymity, already teetering on the precipice of extinction, will be legislated into a historical artifact.

Pseudonyms, such as my own, will become completely irrelevant. And if you choose, quite legitimately, to make yourself anonymous using proxy services such as YouHide, Zend2 or Proxify - well, obviously you have something to hide, Citizen. At which point the second part of the legislation will kick in and you will be more deeply surveilled.

This leads me to the second, more scary element of this new Thought Police legislation. As we've seen with the new counter-terrorism laws, once they're on the statute book, they are twisted in new and interesting ways - terror laws have been used to spy on binmen, littering and even underage smoking, to say nothing of freezing the assets of Icelandic banks.

ID Cards, CCTV, the DNA database you can't get off even if you were never charged, your communications monitored. Everything adding to Government control, Government monitoring, your right to go about your business peacefully and privately eroded to nothing but a memory.

The line in the sand between privacy and Big Brother will again be redrawn by this legislation. And it will be redrawn again,and again, until the words you use over the phone, or in an email to your friend, will be surveilled and flagged to the Government if they don't meet the accepted criteria. Which, of course you won't know. So you'll self-censor your conversations to avoid criticising the State. And you won't know you've offended.

At least, until you hear the knock on your door and see the Thought Police standing there.


This man was not a novelist, not a writer of fiction. It turns out he was a prophet.

This has to stop.