Yesterday was Remembrance Sunday and tomorrow is Armistice Day. On these days we remember those who have given their lives to protect our freedom.
But today we find our freedom is being attacked from a different direction. Not from a foreign country. No, it’s from a home grown source. The government.
Ask any member of the public and they will say that we have the right to do almost anything as long as it doesn’t adversely affect someone else. The right to have a free press. The right to free speech. The right to be a tourist and take photographs in a public place. But slowly and surely these rights are being lined up like dominos, ready to be knocked down by a quick tap.
The government want to issue us with id cards to help “prevent terrorism”. How can a card prevent terrorism? In itself it can’t, but it can be linked to a central database. This database could contain all the information that government holds on you: where you live; your date of birth; National Insurance number; Income Tax records; Car details (insurance, licence, MOT); welfare benefits; and many more. At the moment all this information is kept isolated, and that’s how it will stay. Or will it? What would stop a future government, for national security reasons, passing legislation that would combine all this data?
It would then be just a small step to link it with shops loyalty card details. Again this would be for security reasons. They would then know how much you spend, how much tax you paid and how much money you earned.
And with toll roads and congestion charging systems they would be able to keep track of where you are. Once your car has a black box fitted to it so that toll charges can be automatically paid, they will know where your car is all the time.
And if you don’t believe that this could happen, just look at what’s happening:
Members of the public and press photographers are increasingly being prevented from taking photographs and video in public. At the moment it is not illegal to take photographs in a public place, although a large number of police and security guards think otherwise. Even the Home Secretary has tried to muddy the water. In a letter to the National Union of Journalists she states “…may I take this opportunity to state that the Government greatly values the importance of the freedom of the press, and as such there is no legal restriction on photography in public places” and then goes on to say “It is for the local Chief Constable … to decide how his or her Officers and employees should best balance the rights to freedom of the press, freedom of expression and the need for public protection”
There is also plans to monitor all internet traffic and telephone calls. They will keep track of your telephone calls, your emails and which websites you visit.
And today we found out that the Intelligence and Security Committee are discussing plans to allow the police and other agencies to censor the media. This would allow them the ability to block any bad news that the government of the day didn’t want you to find out about. Oh yes, they would push the legislation through for security reasons, but once again, once it’s on the Statute books, it could easily be used for other purposes.
George Orwell was wrong with his book 1984. Wrong by 20 years. He should have called it 2014, because by then, it will be a reality.
Unless we do something to stop it.
What can you do? Well you could write to your MP. Or you could pick up a camera and go out taking photographs in a public place, and make a stand for freedom.
Update: Consider joining the OpenRightsGroup [Thanks Alex Harrington for the link]