My personal snapping point was reached last week, at the precise moment Jack Straw announced the government was vetoing the Information Tribunal’s order for the release of cabinet minutes relating to that whole invasion-of-Iraq thing
I agree that many of the British people will reach their own snapping point with regard to our government sometime soon and that perhaps the state of the economy will be the metaphorical straw that causes them to stop rolling over and accepting the ongoing series of government malfeasance.
Chris Huhne, Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman, added: “The Government’s Orwellian plans for a vast database of our private communications are deeply worrying. I hope that this consultation is not just a sham exercise to soft-soap an unsuspecting public.”
Guy Herbert, from campaign group NO2ID, said: “The Home Secretary talks about ‘principles’ but the only principle she appears to be acquainted with is convenience for the stalker state.
I too have concerns about this proposal. Presumably the idea is that criminals and terrorists even if they are smart enough not to discuss their illegal activities over telephones or via email will communicate with their associates. The database will allow investigators to map these networks of associates and open up new areas of investigation and discover new suspects.
But the vast majority of Britons are not terrorists or criminals so the database will mostly consist of data that is of no use to the police or the security services but would be to criminals who could use the data to aid in identity theft. Frankly I have no faith in the government’s ability to safeguard this data.
Excellent new book has been published about how the UK has become a surveillance society.
SURVEILLANCE UNLIMITED is a gripping examination of the erosion of personal privacy and a disturbing look at the relationship between technology and society in modern daily life.
Nineteen eighty-four’s all-seeing eye is now a reality. Britain is a surveillance society, but in ways that Orwell could never have imagined. Your car is satellite-tracked, your features auto-identified on video, your e-mails, faxes and phone calls monitored. You are secretly followed via transmitters implanted in your clothes, via your switched-off mobile and your credit card transactions. Your character, needs and interests are profiled by surveillance of every website you visit, every newsgroup you scan, every purchase you make. Big Brother is here, quietly adding to your files in the name of government efficiency and the fight against organised crime and terrorism.
I can understand the logic that leads people to think that instituting massive surveillance systems or creation of large databases that hold information about every single citizen. If a little of something is good then a lot of that thing must surely be a great thing.
It is believed that because we derive benefits from the current DNA database that increasing the size of that database will derive a commensurate increase in benefits. But that is not the case and any little increase in benefit is I believe far outweighed by the costs both in terms of privacy but also financial.
As a database increases in size the number of errors in that database increase which could lead to mismatches and criminal acts erroneously linked to innocent people.
Mirasys polled 150 delegates during IFSEC who came from different vertical sectors including banking, government, public sector and retail. Delegates estimated that the number of CCTV cameras in the UK would more than double by 2018.
The poll of security professionals estimated that an average of 8.6 million CCTV cameras will be in place by 2018, compared with the current figure of 4.2 million cameras. This figure includes deployments at people’s homes as well.
This is quite an astonishing number, it seems that everyone wants more surveillance to protect their property and ensure their security even though the actual efficacy is in doubt.
Sir Simon Milton, chairman of the Local Government Association, has warned councils that the powers granted to them under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act should not be used for “trivial offences” such as dog fouling.
The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act was designed to regulate the powers of public bodies to carry out surveillance and investigation for the purpose of detecting crime, and was pushed through parliament under the banner of combating acts of terrorism and organised crime.