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Back in the USSR, er… UK

The geographies that gave the world “Nineteen Eighty-Four” (and, oddly enough, the Magna Carta), and which are home to the “Surveillance Society” (for the highest per capita concentration of surveillance cameras in a western industrialized nation), are now considering “the mass surveillance and retention of all user communications on social networking sites, including Facebook, MySpace, and Bebo.

Who knows? Maybe we already do this in the U.S….. :-)

Vernon Coaker, the U.K. Home Office security minister, said on Monday that the EU Data Retention Directive, which requires Internet service providers to store communications data for 12 months, does not go far enough! Perhaps GPS-enabled, bugged collars (that could be detonated like those in “The Running Man” starring Arnold Schwarzenegger), might be more to his liking? :-)

The trouble with “control freaks” is that they are not happy until everything stops moving, and then they wonder why…. If they were librarians, the books would remain in perfect order, and never be “checked out” to be read. They destroy more companies than have ever been estimated.

Besides the contemplated storage of all of the social networking communications, the U.K. government is also considering “deep packet inspection,” the interception and inspection of all data packets that flow over a network, as well as a centralized data base for this information. (More good news for vendors of storage systems!)  :-)

(Note added July 1, 2009: In re-reading the paragraphs above, it struck me that many of you readers without technological backgrounds MIGHT NOT HAVE REALIZED THAT SUCH THINGS ARE EVEN POSSIBLE! The fact that the UK is considering them SHOWS that such things are possible, which is another good reason for all of us to learn a smattering of science and technology.)


I MUST enjoy “social experiments,” or I would not live in California. :-) However, many times I am willing to let the social experiments happen “across the pond.” According to some recent news, England is now experiencing an epidemic of knifings, since it implements rigid policies of gun control, not having learned the lessons of its gun control prior to World War II (in which American citizens sent needed small arms to England for its defense). California news repeats the peculiar phrase “gun violence:-) (rather than, for example, “gang violence”), as though placing several firearms together in a drawer might somehow be inviting violence. The territoriality, violence, and cannibalism shown by one of our closest relatives, the chimpanzee in the Planet Earth series (oddly enough, from the BBC :-) ), provide a view closer to the truth.

I have recently blogged about social networking and its value to governments and law enforcement, as well as the tendency (1, 2) to centralize data-gathering functions, because these stories have appeared in the news. The U.K. apparently “leads” the U.S. in the broad application of facial recognition software to surveillance as well, although even California’s Department of Motor Vehicles seems eager to catch up!

It looks like bad ideas travel fast! :-)

I would encourage those in government to watch the results of experiments now being conducted in the U.K. before repeating them. And I would hope fervently for wisdom to come to folks conducting the social experiments in the U.K. before the likely, undesirable end results of such experiments are achieved….

-Bill at Cheshire Cat Photo™

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