This week on Facebook: I decided to conclude my research into aspects of the internet and especially those involving social media by focusing on State surveillance. Initially prompted by what I am sure was intended as an innocuous remark about an age of transparency, each step that I have taken has led to posts that have drawn me deeper into the morass that is the internet and particularly that associated with social media. My research into surveillance by the State reinforces my dystopian view of the future regarding the changing of democracy in the UK.
It seems to me that the nature of the ultimate revolution with which we are now faced is precisely this: That we are in process of developing a whole series of techniques which will enable the controlling oligarchy who have always existed and presumably will always exist to get people to love their servitude. [Aldous Huxley — 1962 U.C. Berkley]
The Great Firewall of China or the Golden Shield Project is more than a fly screen, despite the remark made for its justification that if you open the window for fresh air, you have to expect some flies to blow in. The Golden Shield would seem to be the firewall model that most States are trying to emulate in their use of mass surveillance and a rationale that it is — primarily — being used to protect its citizens. Yet as the video below demonstrates, the State denies its citizens of their privacy and uses the specious claim that if you have nothing to hide then you have nothing to fear.
Monday: Britt McHenry and the Upsides of a Surveillance Society — The omnipresence of cameras is a legitimate source of anxiety. But the possibility of exposure can also encourage us to be a little kinder to each other.
Tuesday: The Surveillance Society — Perhaps there’s consolation in the magic of the microchip. Technology makes all secrets more difficult to keep—not just our personal secrets but the government’s as well.
Wednesday: Brits blindly walking into Orwellian surveillance state, survey suggests — Revealing the widespread confusion many Brits are experiencing with respect to the soon-to-be-implemented legislation. Known to its opponents as the “snoopers’ charter,” the bill will give UK law enforcement bodies unprecedented access to citizens’ online activities.
Thursday: What Is Mass Surveillance And What Does It Have To Do With Human Rights? Mass surveillance interferes with our fundamental right to privacy. Privacy means we can be free from unwanted disturbance or attention into our lives. It is an important aspect of our personal freedom, identity and dignity.
Friday: How Government Surveillance Threatens How We Communicate — There was broad recognition at the United Nations Human Rights Council that the same rights we enjoy offline must also apply online.
‘From the police point of view… theft, burglary, even violent crime will not be the predominant police feature. What will be the matter of greatest concern will be the covert and ultimately overt attempts to overthrow democracy, to subvert the authority of the state, and, in fact to involve themselves in acts of sedition designed to destroy our parliamentary system and the democratic government in this country.’ [James Anderton the Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police on BBC Question Time in 1979]
The above remark made by Anderton nearly forty years ago could be regarded as prescient. Yet I doubt that even he envisaged a surveillance society as being one in which the State supported the police neglect of their attestation to uphold fundamental human rights¹. Despite the attestation’s retention of the requirement that the police have a duty to prevent all offences against people and property; theft, burglary and even violent crime, are now ceasing to be the predominant police feature. The matter of greatest concern to the police appears to be that of pursuing legitimate private and public opinion, which are then conflated into acts of sedition.
It is becoming increasingly obvious that the State’s greatest concern is indeed covert and ultimately overt attempts to overthrow democracy, but what is not so obvious is who or what the State fears the most. It seems that the State is prepared to take whatever steps it deems necessary — while claiming to maintain democracy — to protect itself against perceived acts of sedition designed to destroy the parliamentary system. Leading perhaps to the conclusion that the State’s only recourse to counter what it chooses to call terrorist activities is to watch you. That an age of transparency has led to State surveillance of the many and the privileged privacy of the few².
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