Tuesday, 1 January 2008

Can't Take My Eyes (And Ears) Off You

War is Peace
Only those with something to hide would object to the government having the power to monitor their phone calls. After all: if you've done nothing wrong then you've got nothing to worry about. That's roughly how it goes. And besides, in spite of a six year multi-billion pound war effort to catch him, Osama is still at large. And while he is who knows what kind of shit's going to hit the fan. But don't worry, your government is here to protect you, and to protect your civil liberties. Because your civil liberties are exactly what Osama and his 'freedom' hating Al-Qaeda network want to attack us for. "They hate our freedoms." And all your government needs to protect you and your civil liberties is access to your phone calls, text messages, your emails and the websites you visit, access to your financial transactions, ID cards, and ever increasing surveillance though the millions of CCTV cameras monitoring every move you make.
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Am I dreaming? Sometimes it's hard to tell. Henry Porter (in a very good Observer article) points to the fact that we've now reached a kind of rhetorical tipping point where what the government says is the exact opposite of what it does:
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"Gordon Brown proclaims his solemn duty 'to uphold freedom of speech, freedom of information and freedom of protest', yet his ministers steal through the night to attack each one of these rights."
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Porter's article follows a parlimentary 'statutory instrument' (sounds painful) signed by Home Secretary Jacqui Smith in July 2007 which gives 795 public companies access to all landline and mobile phone calls and text messages. The House of Lords passed the bill without even debating it. By 2009 the government intends to apply this law to internet use, allowing the government to monitor your emails, the websites you visit and any internet phone calls you make. Conveniently to this end, the 'statutory instrument' process allows the government to 'alter laws without a full act of parliment'. It really is incredible. The terrorists hate us because of our civil liberties, the government protects us from the terrorists by taking away those liberties. Brown has beaten Osama to it.
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[Read more here.]

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