Watchful of your liberty

Having watched the government’s attempt to railroad away Habeas Corpus, it will comes as no surprise therefore to find out that since the early 1970’Seand the embattled British government’s attempts to contain and control the IRA and its various splinter factors, not forgetting the UDA and its various off-shoots, that we are under surveillance.

Yes, you may think that I have forgotten the Cold War, but this was restrained and though there were abuses notably the phone monitoring and breaking into of CND premiseSeand individuals hoes; in the main due to the technology of the day the government was constrained in its actions due to manning and resources.

It is now 2008, the spectre of Big Brother’ and 1984 has been passed by, and today theBook cover of 1984implementation of a nanny’ state, introduction of video surveillance (first brought into place with the covert photography of imprisoned suffragettes in 1913) with face recognition software enabled in 1998, with similar software for vehicles the year before, we are right to think we are being watched.

Viceo Surveillance in out streetsIndeed surveillance is not just limited to the streets with video cameras. Every time you withdraw money, purchase something with your debit/credit card the transaction is noted on computer and a history of your spending habits can be extrapolated.

Since late 2007 all UK telecom providers have to keep phone logs of all its users’ calls for at least a year, whether made by landline or mobile. Of course the terrorists whom the government try to frighten us with, have realised thiSeand now use Skype phones which use the web, and which currently no-one can record!

So in affect we have all been created equal’ in state criminals. The totalitarian state is not very far away. Indeed the government’s actions in the DNA database has turned over one million innocents into criminals included in which are children (1/2 million at the last count).

The government has shown both nationally and locally that it will abuse its power, e.g. the DNA example given above for central government, and locally we have Walsall Council using the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (2000) ” to investigate alleged benefit fraud, anti-social behaviour and trading standard infringements bearing in mind that this Act was intended to be used in the interests of national security.

I am sure you remember the case of a family in Poole put under surveillance because they were suspected of living outside the catchment area of their child’s school.

Is there no curtailment of the UK government? It would seem very little! The European Court of Human Rights after deliberation has ordered the British Government to pay E7,500 in costSeand expenses to the UK human rights organisation Liberty’ for violating their rights to privacy by intercepting its telecommunications. This was brought under Article 8 of European Council of Human Rights.

Does this mean that we can assume that the British government will curtail its big brother’ attempts of surveillance and control? I do not believe so. In March 2007 the British government has launched an enquiry into surveillance conducted on citizens by the government. It is to investigate the growing number and scope of government databases holding increasing amounts of information on citizens.

So do I think that the commission will achieve anything? No I am again afraid that the history of Commissions in the UK is not great; they seem to take an inordinate amount of time to get to the point at which they started, cost a very great deal of money, and in the main cannot impose their recommendations on whoever they need to.

Information Commissioner Richard Thomas said (2007) Two years ago I warned that we were in anger of sleepwalking into a surveillance society; today I fear that we are in fact Waking up to a surveillance society, that is already ”

Looming on the horizon is the spectre of National ID cards. The government first introduced during the 2nd World Ware paper based ID cards, and they were removed in 1952. These cards were introduced to allow people to get their food ration, stop them from dodging conscription and make sure they weren’t German. With the technology of the time, these proved to be easily forged mainly for the benefit of criminalSeand those avoiding conscription. Do I think that the new format will make any difference no I don’t. Criminals can afford to invest in more money to break any encryption techniques deployed by government.

The criminals, and therefore terrorists who have money to burn and use criminals to achieve their aims, will find a way around the technology or adapting it to suit their needs.

I started this article about surveillance. I mentioned in passing the use of mobile phone technology and the capacity for it to be monitored. This is not just in relation to calls. However should you be a technophobe and not carry a phone, use a TV (satellite, cable or terrestrial) or anything else don’t think you can escape. As long as you shop, most items bought have an RFID tag (something smaller than a pin head) for stock taking’ purposesAn EPC RFID tag used by Wal-Mart. which can be monitored around the store to track your purchasing and other habits. Indeed this can be taken outside the store, to the high street or mall even to your home.

This is not an attempt to scare you but an attempt to make you more aware of the liberties you have lost and will loose unless we start challenging the government of the day eye looking through a keyholeabout its dutieSeand about our rights. it has a right and duty to govern not to imprison or spy without cause.

I am not the only person who is aware, the Anarchist Federation has published a small pamphlet ‘Defending Anonymity’ which can be downloaded as a as a pdf file DEFENDING ANONYMITY - 3rd edition

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