Thursday, February 01, 2007

What am I getting myself into?

The UK and London in particular is becoming a surveillance society according to various observers (here, here, here and here). I already knew this before I decided to move there so I'm not really least not until today when I read this.

Essentially it talks about a proposal to install "body scanners" around the city to X-Ray people walking by to catch anyone with a weapon...or at least what looks like a weapon. I don't think I need to say very much for anyone to realise there are many many many things wrong with this proposal. First of all, I don't particularly want to potentially be subjected to X-Rays everywhere I go! Obvious health risks aside, what about our privacy rights? X-Rays are yet another form of an identifier. One could argue it's a rather high tech expensive way of presenting one's "credential". Given that fact, I sure as hell don't want it stored on some giant database somewhere for someone to look at later without my knowledge or my approval! I even have issues giving out my email address. Did you think I wouldn't have a problem with the British Government having my frigging X-Ray photos? Hell yeah!

There's already closed circuit TV around the streets of London so they can pretty much track where I'm going if they want. I was watching the news on TV the other night and it showed how they managed to track a terrorist who tried to detonate another bomb on the tube, but it didn't quite go off like he planned. They showed him exiting the train, leaving the station, walking through some train tracks, climbing a fence and through someone's house and then getting on a bus! Hey, it worked because they caught the guy this way...but that also means they could go figure out EXACTLY what everyone else is doing too!

Look, I can probably accept that they have cameras around London for "public safety", but X-Rays?! Talk about a blatant invasion of privacy! They take our pictures now. They're looking into facial recognition technology (UK police for identifying suspects and also as part of the ID card program). Now they want to take our X-Rays too? What's next? Urine and stool samples so they can see how healthy we are and what we've been eating? What about hair samples? Do they want that so they can do DNA screening to figure out who's going to be bleeding the public health system dry with health problems later in life and ship them off to another country before it's too late?

Perhaps the British Government have been spending too much time reading George Orwell's 1984 or the V for Vendetta comics.

Update: Apparently they can also track your car via number plate recognition and like monitoring people's telephones and email.

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