The Government yesterday announced that every phone call, text message, email and website visit made by private citizens is to be stored for a year and will be available for surveillance by government officials. Despite widespread opposition to the increasing amount of “spying” in Britain, 653 public bodies will be given access to our most intimate information, including police, the ambulance service, local councils and even prison governors. The Home Office conducted a six month consultation on various citizens, but admitted that only a third of people actually wanted the “Big Brother” style surveillance.
So much for a democracy.
Every online click will now be registered under the new rules, known as the Intercept Modernisation Programme which will cost the UK taxpayer £2 billion over ten years. Firms involved in storing date include Orange, Vodafone and BT and will be reimbursed at a cost to the taxpayer over 10 years. In the middle of a recession, the last thing that the UK needs is a costly law that will put our human rights at risk. Some say that our rights have been severly watered down anyway, but I feel that this is definitely a step too far.
The government seems unable to understand the balance between tackling the terrorism threat in this country potentially abusing its own citizens. It is not incumbent upon those intrusted with these huge powers not to abuse them. Its happened before, and it can happen again.
Think back to the collapse of the Berlin Wall recently, in which Germany celebrated 20 years of unity after 28 years of aggressive segregation from their own governement. On the very same Britain annouced (in public at least) that extreemly closely related actions will be put into practice. The UK could quite easily go down a similar route if they’re not careful.
The Liberal Democrats have strongly apposed the plans, quite rightly pointing out fundamental flaws in the system. The home affairs spokesman for the Lib Dems added: “It is simply not that easy to seperate the bare details of a call from its content. What if a leading business person was calling Alcoholics Anonymous?”
Although the new legislation may save a few lives, the long term effect is potentially far greater with people’s long term emotional well-being at risk. Explicity going against the publics wishes is not going to endear anybody to the Labour Party.
George Orwell’s “1984″ published in 1949 was not far off the mark. A superb piece of literature, it tells the story of a modern dystopian country, ruled by totaliterean oppressers.
Orwell must be spinning in his grave. He knew it was coming.