The front-page of yesterday’s Sunday Times revealed that the government intends to require the production of a passport by anyone purchasing a mobile phone. The reason? They want to know who owns every phone used in the UK, so that they can electronically track all of us, all of the time.
Even when no call is being made, mobile phones send out a signal to the nearest telephone masts, making it possible to work out the phone’s location. The government intends to link this information with the DVLA’s car registration database and the police’s automatic license plate identification system, to make keeping tabs on us that little bit easier. The government also intends to create a new database which will store the details of every single electronic communication made in the UK.
It really makes me wonder what kind of a country we are living in. Will the current government ever realize the George Orwell did NOT intend 1984 to be used as an instruction manual? Somehow, I suspect not.
Instead, the government is bound to say that only the guilty have anything to fear and that unless we have something to hide, we should all march (or should that be goose-step) happily down the road to electronically-tagged serfdom , safe in the knowledge that Big Brother is on the side of the angels. That’s the excuse that all tyrants use, and I don’t expect our ones to be any different.
The problem is that it isn’t true. The very existence of that kind of information and that degree of centralized power is a threat – regardless of the intentions that lie behind it. These powers will be abused and the data’s security will be compromised. It is so predictable that you would be a fool not to see it coming.
Everyone who values freedom, regardless of their political affiliation, should fight these proposals and others like them every step of the way. It is not just a matter of practicality or expense: liberty matters in and of itself. We are not the possessions of government, and it’s high time we reminded them of that.
Hat-tip to Chris Weston, the comic-strip artist behind the fantastic image accompanying this blog.