The UK Surveillance Society

Russell's picture

"If you've nothing to hide you've nothing to fear" is the mantra of the proponents of the surveillance society. It's rubbish of course as we all have things to hide such as our bank account or credit card details! Privacy International's 2007 survey gave the UK the lowest privacy ranking in the EU putting it in the 'endemic surveillance' category alongside Russia and Singapore. So do we good citizens actually need to worry? Well a couple of years ago the hacker Tom Owad combined Amazon book wishlists with Google Earth data ( and filtered for 'subversive' literature. The result is a world map of would be readers of subversive books. Clicking on the would be reader brings up a high res satelite image of their house. Scary? Certainly for me! Nigel Shadbolt co-author of "The Spy in the Coffee Machine: The End of Privacy as We Know It" puts it this way:

"If you keep within the law, and the government keeps within the law, and its employees keep within the law, and the computer holding the database doesn't screw up, and the system is carefully designed according to well-understood software engineering principles and maintained properly, and the government doesn't scrimp on the outlay, and all the data are entered carefully and the police are adequately trained to use the system and the system isn't hacked into, and your identity isn't stolen, and the local hardware functions, well, you have nothing to fear."

For myself I'd make that MAYBE you have nothing to fear.

"I fear having to prove I have nothing to hide"