Saturday, May 08, 2010

Here's some of the joys 'surveillance society(for your own good)'

has given Britain:
As he looked into it, he found that the UK, once a bastion of freedom and civil liberties, is now one of the most advanced surveillance societies in the world, ranked third after Russia and China. The average UK adult is now registered on more than 700 databases and is caught many times each day by nearly five million CCTV cameras. Increasingly monitored, citizens are being turned into suspects. Within 100 yards of Bond’s home, he discovered, there were no fewer than 200 cameras.
Before going on the run, he made 80 formal requests to government and commercial organisations for the information they held on him. He piled the replies on his floor, appalled by the level of detail. The owners of the databases knew who his friends were, which websites he’d been looking at, and where he had driven his car. One commercial organisation was even able to inform him that, on a particular day in November 2006, he had “sounded angry”. It was more than he knew himself.

Many people believe that, if you have nothing to hide, there is nothing to fear from all this scrutiny. But if you resist the urge to pick your nose while others are present, or close the door when you go to the toilet, you are a privacy advocate. “When you realise that your whole life is under view,” says the Tory MP David Davis, “it’s inhibiting.”

And what if the information about us is wrong? Bond found that the DVLA still keeps on record a youthful driving offence that should have been expunged years ago. He waved it grimly at his uncomprehending daughter: “This is Daddy’s drink-driving record.” Worse was the case of a woman he met, falsely identified by the Criminal Records Bureau as a convicted shoplifter, who’d taken a year to prove her innocence. Or the man who, after someone pinched his credit card details and used them to pay for porn, was arrested, then sacked without notice; when Bond met him, he still hadn’t been able to clear his name.
They also worked out where she was due to give birth and phoned the hospital, pretending to be Bond, to get details of her appointments.
(think about that: no ID, no nothing, and the hospital and NHS gave them what they asked for...)
The National Health Service is unrolling a multibillion-pound IT project that will upload millions of patients’ medical records on to a database, freely accessed by 250,000 NHS staff and, to a lesser degree, by private health companies, council workers, commercial researchers and ambulance staff. Letters are going out now, strongly urging us all to allow this and making it as hard as possible to opt out.
In the film, Gowlett demonstrated how easy it already was to pretend to be Bond and get information about Katie’s antenatal arrangements. For Katie, this totally overturned her previous complacency. “I was a bit freaked out that the NHS gave away our appointments,” she says. “I know what David meant about being data-raped.”
And with NYEffin'C acting like the answer to terrorists is more cameras, other cities working on it and Obamacare and so forth, we're on the same damned road.

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