Wednesday 21 January 2009

& North Korean Civil Liberties for all

Team Huddle. Diary Room. The Government, concerned about the waning popularity of Big Brother, is bringing the experience into all our homes. It’s proposing a new super database, to enable it to read all our emails, phone calls, and internet searches. And for added fun and expense, it’s proposing to farm out the job to some private company. That way, when the disks are left in a briefcase on the train, it’s somebody else’s fault. Only £12Bn, and Big Brother really will be tagging all our private conversations and outings on the internet. It’s all about terrorism, see? If the terrorists won, they’d take away our civil liberties, and we’d have a government that spied on us all the time...

But hang on,
  1. It’s not easy for crimefighters to process and use the information they have now. Can you imagine how misleading and useless the proposed mass of unfocussed information could possibly be? Right now, the authorities need warrants, and, more importantly, some sense of direction, when they rifle our digital dustbins. It’s quality information, not sheer quantity, that aids detection. Beyond a certain point, excessive useless information actually misleads. Fascinating trails can lead nowhere, but be followed anyway. That’s how false convictions happen. And, take it from me, the real crooks will soon find ways to play this thing like a violin.
  2. Collecting this mass of 99·999% useless information will be hell. So will sorting it, storing it, accessing it, and interpreting it. But all those activities can be guaranteed to be a Sunday School outing, compared to the joy of straightening out the mess when misperceptions occur. You can bet your bottom dollar that this activity will be solidly exempted from any data protection legislation. When the billions of cockups we can anticipate start piling up and impinging on our private lives, don’t think it’ll be easy to do anything about it.
  3. Pub Licensing hours came in during the first world war to hasten the downfall of Kaiser Bill. Within four years, Kaiser Bill went and done an Untergang. Eighty years on, all we had was Kaiser Chiefs. But we still had our World War 1 licensing laws.
    Funny, isn’t it, how panic measures for one purpose stick around and find others?
I’m struggling with this whole hare-brained thang. But tell you what, we can all try this out for a day. There’s a group on Facebook called “cc all your private emails to Jacqui Smith Day.” Let’s all share our private information with the Home Secretary by blind copying everything to The Facebook group will say which day to do it, because we mustn’t overwhelm out poor hardworking Home Secretary with useless titbits, spam, and garbage. That would be a terrible waste of time, wouldn’t it? We can then measure how much Crime, War and International Terrorism fell that day, and, armed with that hard knowledge, we can all calculate whether this obvious erosion of our basic human rights is worth the candle. If we decide not to go ahead, anyone missing the scheme can move to North Korea, where nobody would bat an eyelid at this police method, and there’s a constant stream of Norman Wisdom movies on TV to keep them cheerful.

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