Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Big Brother is Listening to You

I was alarmed to read, as I settled down with my Sunday paper, that the government is thinking of installing microphones on the streets of our towns and cities. The thinking behind it (allegedly) is that they will be able to register the change in the pitch of noise that will indicate when trouble is brewing. Considering the fact that almost everything we do in the Uk these days is caught on film - don't you think whoever is watching all those cctv cameras would see if a riot was going on. After all we're not even allowed to hang out in big groups any more - isn't it breaking the law.

I was a staunch Labour supporter in my youth. But this is going to far. It really will be big brother watching and listening to us. Everything we say in public could be recorded and listened to. Woe betide that you might make a joke, it might be misconstrued and you could end up in jail. We are already one of the most filmed nations on the planet - and we have accepted our fate with barely a spark of protest - even though when we think about it too much it does make us feel uncomfortable. What is most worrying is that this technology will be sneaked in under our very noses - no public votes, hardly a murmur of protest and before we know it we will have secret police who arrest you for saying the wrong thing. Ludicrous? Perhaps but this technology has already been installed as an "experiment" in some areas of London....


Anvilcloud said...

I am always surprised by the number of cameras that are apparently around when I watch the British mysteries -- which are really great btw.

theprovocativecynic said...

Whilst I applaud your comments when wearing my Civil Liberties hat, I also - through my last job -was often aware of disturbing intelligence which utterly changed my view of the world. (I exclude from this, of course, the notorious Iraq dossier, the production of which was inexcusable in my view). The information that I knew about was of a very low level and yet was enough to often prevent me sleeping well at night.

I'm now not sure what the answer is - I suspect that, whilst matters such as this should of course be debated in the House of Commons, any vote always attracts a knee-jerk rebel response, which often, in my experience, bears no relation to the very different nature of the world compared to when most of us developed our views on civil liberties.

I am profoundly uncomfortable even writing this as it sounds so reactionary - but do think it's necessary to try to think about the very high expectations that we place on our police and other security services to anticipate and protect us from threats.

I suspect that achieving a balance between the absolute importance of protecting our liberties, (as they are what make our society as it is), with the necessity of trying to protect that same society, will force us all to constantly re-evaluate our views - which is all the harder when we are not privy to what is really going on for much of the time.

I don't know the answer, just that I know that I need to consider these issues far beyond what my lifelong socialism would have me think automatically.