Slide to a surveillance society

surveillance cameraFuture generations will neither enjoy nor understand the concept of privacy.

More importantly, says the chief official in charge of managing public information in Britain,

“The increasing use of electronic surveillance to track everything from a person’s sexuality to their spent criminal convictions is eroding trust in society.”

The Guardian reports that Richard Thomas, the information commissioner, has warned of the increasing risks associated with a 24/7 surveillance society in which more and more institutions hold personal data comes amid concerns about the way people’s electronic records are being used. He is suggesting that the use of ‘unseen and uncontrolled’ surveillance is threatening to erode the public’s confidence in many of society’s institutions.

“Britain must not ‘sleepwalk’ into a surveillance society.”

The state have fundamentally altered the way it relates to its citizens. The House of Lords Constitution Committee is to launch an inquiry into the impact of government surveillance and data collection.

Another worried Telegraph blogger reminds us that zeal to chase threats can damage the fabric of our world.

There is a memorable piece of dialogue in which Thomas More’s son-in-law Roper declares that he’d cut down every law in England to pursue the Devil.

“And when the last law was down,” More replies, “and the Devil turned on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted with laws from coast to coast, man’s laws, not God’s, and if you cut them down, and you’re just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the wind that would blow then?”

Henry Porter, a columnist at the Guardian is dragging political hyprocrisy into the limelight.

Jack Straw, [until recently a senior leader in the British government], has made what is described as a rallying call for the story of freedom in Britain. He says we should imitate America by telling stories of how the country came to be what it is today. Writing in the Chatham House Journal, The World Today, he says we should stress that freedom lies at the heart of the story. “That means freedom through the narrative of the Magna Carta, the civil war, the bill of rights, the Scottish enlightenment, the fight for votes. And the emancipation of Catholics, non-conformists, woman and the black community.”

In the decade-long attack on liberty and rights by this government, there has never been a more astonishing nor more hypocritical statement made by any member of Blair’s team.

Richard Thomas, the Information Commissioner, continues to warn Parliament and the British people:

Microphones that can eavesdrop on conversations in the street are the next step in the march towards a “Big Brother” society.

Tiny cameras, hidden in lamp posts, will replace more obvious monitors.

He also quoted Benjamin Franklin who said: “Those who lightly give up their liberties in the name of safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”