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Brits Attempt to Snoop On Everything And Tell Anyone

2009 March 22

The UK is already the most surveiled society in the world, with more cameras per capita than any other country.  There’s no evidence that this reduces crime, but that isn’t stopping the government from wanting to spy even more.

Recently they’ve proposed  spying on social networking sites:

“The UK government, which is becoming increasingly Orwellian, has said that it is considering snooping on all social networking traffic including Facebook, MySpace, and bebo.

They have also attempted to bypass current privacy protections and share private info with the private sector, other governments, departments and, well, pretty much anyone:

“Clause 152 of the Coroners and Justice Bill, currently being debated by the UK Parliament, would allow any Minister by order to take from anywhere any information gathered for one purpose, and use it for any other purpose. Personal information arbitrarily used without consent or even knowledge: the very opposite of ‘Data Protection.’ An ‘Information Sharing Order’, as defined in Clause 152, would permit personal information to be trafficked and abused, not only all across government and the public sector — it would also reach into the private sector. And it would even allow transfer of information across international borders.

Fortunately public uproar made them withdraw this particular anti-privacy provision.

The UK has been leading the US and other Western nations in the march closer and closer toward surveillance states.  I hope the rejection of the sharing provisions means a reversal in trend, but I suspect it’s only a small setback to those who believe that taking away citizens’ privacy and liberty is the route to security.

3 Responses
  1. March 22, 2009

    do not the English have a centuries-old addiction to the projection of “power” (even when it is obviously counterproductive)?

    as well as a perverse/obverse loathing and fascination with those who, under any circumstances, are able to enjoy living ?

    every new technology is a crossroads that reveals a person’s or a nation’s character. the English seem to have a nasty habit of taking wrong turns.

  2. Ian Welsh permalink
    March 22, 2009

    Well, they may have been quite happy to be imperialists, but for the time periods they usually had much more civil liberties than other countries (unless you were Irish.) So I think this is something of a change, and not what I would expect from Britain.

  3. March 22, 2009

    true, being of Irish descent and considering myself more Irish than anything else, quite probably gives me a somewhat myopic and biased pov. yet i cannot help but wonder how much good would’ve been done had Blair & Brown utilized such technologies (cameras and digital snooping) on the London offices of AIG during this millenia.

    otoh, in a tangential defense of your expectations, i would add that the demographics of England particularly have changed dramatically during the past few decades, which could explain much of why an empowered but embattled minority would use every means available to protect itself.

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