Facebook spys


The Home Secretary's demand for access to our Facebook records is just the latest in a remorseless stream of spying that is turning us into a surveillance state. 

The government has delayed, but not shelved, plans to link up all the government databases so that our details could be zipped instantly around half a million civil servants.

Last month the Home Secretary was proposing to set up a database that would log every one of our phone calls, email messages, and Google searches. Google has already been forced to hand over information, under government threats. Police can already requisition CCTV footage, our cashpoint transactions and our mobile phone records – and together with traffic-camera information, these will show exactly where any of us are at any time.

Earlier this year, Liberty had to go to the European Court to fight for the right of innocent people, including children, to have their samples removed from the police DNA database – the biggest in the world, naturally. The police said they'd think about it.

The Home Secretary says it's all necessary to fight terrorism. But during the Troubles in Northern Ireland, people were free to move about – even from Ireland to the UK without a passport – and not be monitored all the time.

The danger is that things like our Facebook information will end up in the wrong hands. Already, hospital staff have been caught swapping online medical information on celebrities. Officials have used CCTV cameras to ogle female customers in shopping malls. The new child database will be accessible to 400,000 officials – let's hope there's not a paedophile among them. People put very personal information on Facebook, and it remains there. So if the rules change and the police can check your past postings, it could prove very embarrassing. The opportunities for abuse or blackmail are legion.

Dr Eamonn Butler's new book, The Rotten State of Britain, is now available to buy now. Click here to find out how.