The Westminster village is agog with who has hacked who, for what reason, when and why.
The latest two to join the fray are Messrs Brown and Blair.
It is a bit rich coming from the two architects of the surveillance state – that they should object to journalists using the same tricks they they have employed against the rest of us.
The EU Data Retention Directive, the ominous sounding 2006/24/EC, was enthusiastically adopted by the last Labour Government.
According to the directive, member states will have to store citizens’ telecommunications data for six to 24 months stipulating a maximum time period. Under the directive the police and security agencies will be able to request access to details such as IP address and time of use of every email, phone call and text message sent or received. A request to access the information will be able only with a court order. The Data Retention Directive has sparked serious concerns from physicians, journalists, privacy and human rights groups, unions, IT security firms and legal experts.
Much has been heard about the recent infiltration of green protest groups that have no more than twenty active members, I know twenty people who are active in politics and community affairs, which one is the government spy ?
Are you sure that the person you are sleeping with is not spying on you ? Sexual intimacy is considered perfectly acceptable by the State for its operatives. The securistate has arrived at the bedroom door.
The Police have turned into a paramilitary force in that they are copying military terminology and tactics. The Police have Forward Intelligence Units FITS, a term they borrowed from the military. Personally I find the overlap between these two units a huge cause for concern, especially as the Military FIT were found wanting in Iraq with allegations of torture and abuse.
The Public are being treated as the ‘enemy’ by the State, so there can be no catchall ‘of acting in the public interest’ because these units are acting in defence of the State against the public.
All states only operate by having the monopoly of violence, this was a principle laid down in this country by Henry VII in 1485, when he abolished personal livery and armies. His grand daughter Elizabeth I established the first secret service under Walsingham. Far from being the ‘reign of good Queen Bess of famous memory’, Elizabeth presided over a virtual police state where no man’s property or life was safe.
With the advance of IT, now all States must have a monopoly of information on its citizens as well, whilst maintaining a veil of secrecy over the State’s activities. What Brown and Blair find hard to accept is that they are no longer part of the golden inner circle that has access to this information, but are now private citizens, out of power and subject to the same intrusive surveillance.
However commercial large organisations have the money and technology to data mine. Google certainly has, most supermarkets data mine and certainly the media barons have the resources and inclination to hack computers and mobile phones. Credit reference agencies share ‘intel’ with their client companies, most government departments share data. The DVLA, Police and Insurance companies and car clampers share data.
The State is not resisting these ‘private armies’ of information as did Henry VII, they are jumping into bed with them.
Instead of bleating about how ‘unfair’ it is they are under surveillance, these two former Prime Ministers should have spent time in power protecting us from ‘them’, not enjoying the inside track.
Privacy International denotes eight countries as being rated as ‘endemic surveillance societies’. Of these eight, China, Malaysia and Russia scored lowest, followed jointly by Singapore and the United Kingdom, then jointly by Taiwan, Thailand and the United States. The best ranking was given to Greece, which was judged to have ‘adequate safeguards against abuse’.
In 2005 Tony Blair and Charles Clarke publicly accused PI’s Director and founder Simon Davies of covertly using his academic affiliation with the London School of Economics (LSE) to undermine the government’s plans for a national identity card. Isolating and discrediting individuals who oppose the State’s will is a common enough practice amongst all authoritarian regimes. Blair’s was no different.
Control of information and dissidents is vital to authoritarian states. They rapidly crumble to nothing otherwise. The Tunisian revolt was in some small measure due to the wikileaks release of diplomatic cables revealing just how corrupt and venal the Tunisian elite were.
The praiseworthy attempts by Heather Brooke to have the MPs expenses revealed , subsequently exposed by the Telegraph group obtaining unredacted copies of the same, lead to a political earthquake when it revealed the crass stupidity,vanity and greed of the political classes in this country. The seething anger did not cause a revolution, and yet the Conservatives failed to win an outright victory, because they were seen as part of the problem.
The disconnect between the Old Etonians who run the Conservative party and the Fabians that run the Labour Party and the Social Democrats is so marked that they need to spy on us because they actually do fear the mob.
Chris Mullin the former Labour MP in Decline & Fall, apart from the whining about losing his Ministerial position, is a revealing insight to the attitude of the last Government to the Freedom of Information Act, and of the new ‘leader’ of the Labour Party, Ed Balls, as to the use of government information in relation to tax credits on dividends.
Monday 2nd April 2007
The Treasury has been forced under the Freedom of information Act (another of our liberal reforms comes back to bite us) to disclose the advice offered by officials at the time and although, like most official advice, it lists pros and cons, it seems on balance to have come down against………..
…………….. To compound our difficulties Ed Balls has foolishly claimed, without the slightest evidence, that the move was supported by the CBI, which triggered indignant denials and only served to add fuel to the fire.
Without the access to this information, the then Government and Balls would have got away with this blatant scam of the facts
On the 27th March, in just over two months you will be asked your sexual preferences, whether you have a second home and details about your home in the largest data mine (25 million forms will be issued) called the 2011 National Census. The last census saw 1.3 million refusals, this time you will get a knock on the door from a new official – the Non Compliance Officer, a new vital ‘frontline’ service for the taxpayer to fund.