“Sleepwalking to a surveillance society.” Anyone awake?

Big Daddy or Big Brother? Where does the balance lie between protecting society and oppressive snooping? The one thing we can be sure of is that technology keeps moving the goal posts and the authorities race to keep up. “We are sleep walking into a surveillance society” said Chris Graham when he took over as Information Commissioner last year. Since then he’s given a new edge to the job, the latest example being a new report into continuing  “ function creep” alongside the onward march of new technology. It goes without saying that Northern Ireland receives no special treatment or analysis that I’ve come across. If you find anything authoritative, do post it.  And yes, you’re right, the ICO’s brief doesn’t take in MI5, but there’s more than enough to be going on with.


Although the monitoring of internet use by staff and tracking their movements by GPS applications on their mobiles is already commonplace, the report highlights some worrying new trends in workplace monitoring. They include the use of CCTV in classrooms ostensibly to control pupil behaviour but also used to monitor teacher performance.

The recent trial by Merseyside police of the use of unmanned helicopter drones in UK civilian airspace which can record hi-resolution visible and infra-red images from heights of 500m

The “e-borders” programme under which the details of more than 137 million journeys in and out of Britain have already been logged since 2005 to be held in an active database for five years and then archived for a further five years. The data is checked against “watch lists” which are being developed into “no-fly lists.


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  • pippakin

    We owe terrorists so much…they opened the door and held it while every ‘securocrat’ on the planet walked through.

  • Alan Maskey

    More data is always better than less data and so the desire to accumulate. Now, if you report anything, the cops want your date of birth so they can track you.
    Amazon and many other businesses live by their data base. Data mining is here to stay. Indeed, members of the Baader Meinhoff gang were caught by it in the pre Interent days. The German cops essentially cross tracked anyone who was using cash for relatively big purchases (cars, rent etc, voila).
    The cops catch a lot of crooks by going over the video footage. You only have to look at any high profile crime to see this; the 7-7 attack is as good as any. Indeed, some PIRA bombers in London were caught when the cops put their mug shots up. Ditto with the Landsdowne Road riot.
    The Yorkshire Ripper hoax guy was caught decades later by DNA.
    Allied to the growth of data is the growth of administration which is also implicit in your post. There is a mind set that the solution to everything is to have 100% reporting to ensure compliance is happening. Compliance costs are one of the big disablers.
    Athens or Sparta? Aristotle or Plato? The liberals want their cake and to eat it too.

  • The Raven

    I am just as preturbed by this, as I am when the “authorities” take rather public stuff and go far too far with it.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Anybody living in the Bogside, West Belfast or Crossmaglen can permit themselves a wry smile at the notion of English people wringing their hands in liberal angst that they are living in a big brother society.
    Even in the BBC in London MI5 had offices where “christmas trees” were routinely stuck on personnel files of journalists to show their “suitability”. And Im sure there a few spooks in and around Ormeau Avenue. Indeed it would have been very remiss of the security services NOT to have a friendly journo on the double jobbing payroll.
    Yet it struck me this week that the security services budget is being a bit stretched.
    With memories of the and the miners strikes, poll tax riots or Greenham Common, it was quite common for the security services to infiltrate trade unions and anarchist groups and peace groups. No doubt some senior or middle ranking spooks in Thames House cut their teeth on that kinda thing.
    And of course they would never be agents provocateurs. No sir. Theyre British.
    Yet the students caught them on the hop at Millbank.
    A Stewards Enquiry will follow.
    But it looks like the budget only extends to watching the Islamists and the Irish.
    The lesson wont be lost on those anxious to light a fire under this Con Lib government.

  • Rory Carr

    I’m saying nothing. They might be watching.

  • Whatever you say say nothing eh Rory?

  • Day by day our freedom and liberty has another layer sliced away by the powers that be. Every individual should be free to do as they wish as long as they do not cause any direct harm to anybody else. Government has too much intrusion upon our lives as it is without snatching more from us.

  • Rory Carr

    It’s probably my shy retiring nature, Moochin.