Wednesday, 16 July 2008

"I saw this and thought of you"

My opinions on such matters being well known amongst my friends and colleagues, it is with increasing regularity that they tell me how they heard or read a news story and immediately thought of me.

Now the information commissioner is warning that our way of life is under threat, not from terrorists, but from an overbearing state, which intends to create a database to store every email and every phone call we make. In the past such surveillance would require the police to obtain a warrant, for which they would need to present reasonable grounds for suspicion against a named individual. Now we are all suspect in the eyes of the control freak state, and our privacy and the presumption of our innocence count for nothing.

On top of this gross violation comes the very real threat that this personal information will be accessed for nefarious reasons, as if the state's reasons were not nefarious enough in the first place. For in the modern state, it is considered acceptable for local councils to spy on individuals suspected of the most mundane of byelaw infringements, using laws invented to apprehend terrorists.

Back in the 1960s, Woody Allen's stand-up routine contained a story wherein his house was beseiged by the New York Library Department, due to his failing to return a book on time. In the 21st Century, no one's laughing any more.

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