Friday, January 20, 2006

Communication Shakedown

Feds Seek Google Records On Porn

It's gone midnight here in Britain. I was about to annouce a late blog but the witching hour has passed. I was offline most of yesterday so still have to catch up on late news.

This quick link above reports on the Bush government's attempts to get hold of data from Google - a major threat to our privacy that is being "vigourously contested". The issue is not one concerning pornography at all - that is simply the excuse. A precedent here would effectively be a back door to total surveillance. Google need the most support they can get on this - their own business interests are under threat, but in reality our own freedom is under even more threat.

This is hot on the heels of Blair's education secretary finding herself in hot water over sex offenders working in UK schools. As usual, the rabble-rousing breed of press have jumped on the bandwagon and stirred up a load of paranoia about child molesters and the like. One of the teachers in question seems to have done little more than download a packet of pictures, only one of which was remotely suspect and probably accidental. My own spambox is deluged every day with invites to view "hot rabid teens" (or somesuch) in all manner of wholly unattractive activities. Once in a blue moon an odd one gets by the filters and if opened accidently will, of course, copy that content to my cache. Twice infact, since I also connect to the internet via my own proxy server. Browser pre-fetch handlers also mean this stuff can come down the line without my having seen it at all. So - am I guilty of some crime for having been invaded by material I have not even seen and have no want of? If the criteria described can get me a "caution" which itself would put me on a sex offender's register, it would seem so. Frightening.

Since the time of 9.11, I have kept an eye on signs of excessive surveillance by Blair's government. The sad fact is that it is police, security services and civil servants to conduct such mischief and the legacy of such practices will, if allowed to take root, outlive the present government itself. It is a sad fact that activities involving child sex do plague our society. We are right to be outraged and the issue is a highly emotive one. The solution is not, however, to rally around the vigilantee cause promoted by the media in order to give a totalitarian state more ammunition with which to impose draconian measures which affect personal freedom. I have long suspected that the huge public support for catching child sex offenders has provided the government with the approval it needs to build a surveillance infrastructure that is designed to monitor far more that that which this particular excuse provides. The current dilemma simply shows how inept the system is. If such confusion, mismanagement and practical failures can exist where the protection of children is concerned, one can only imagine the false prosecutions, imprisonments and character assassinations that will ensue when that system reveals its full potential as a mechanism for the supression of civil liberties and dissenting voices.

Hey - I said it was way gone midnight. So goodnight.


No comments: