"As Long As You're Not Doing Anything Wrong, You Have Nothing To Worry About"
Tired cliche to cover big brother agenda doesn't wash anymore

Steve Watson
Wednesday, November 22, 2006

I am personally sick of hearing the above phrase used whenever the latest surveillance tool is trotted out and used on the public as a means of control. It's worn out and doesn't work anymore. People are finally beginning to stop laughing at the madness of the big brother society, but will it be too late when people begin to see the seriousness of the threat?

Endlessly used as an excuse to pass into everyday use policies and technology that are eroding our freedoms and giving our governments more control and responsibility over our lives are phrases such as "Why worry if you have nothing to hide?"

Since when were long established civil liberties and the citizen's right to privacy replaced with this "new freedom", this "freedom lite" shall we call it, this guilty until proven innocent mantra?

The problem lies with what is considered to be "something to hide". I don't want to be filmed 24 hours a day, everywhere I go, does that mean I've got something to hide? I don't much like the idea of being fingerprinted if i want to go into a bar, does that mean I have got something to hide? Yes, if I am an enemy of the gestapo in the 1930s, but no if I am a free citizen in 21st century Britain or America.

Lets take a look at a few of the latest headlines to feature in our big brother news section:

"It's the first time anywhere in the United States that one of these big things has flown on an official air combat command mission," Steve Doocy noted. Brian Kilmeade followed up: "Well, you know what? I love it. They gotta be listening in, listening to the right people. If they're listening in at my house, they're gonna be bored to tears." Doocy jumped in to say that he "wasn't sure" that the drone could listen in, but "they can certainly see what's going on in your back yard. ... I don't think you have anything to worry about as long as you're not doing anything against the law."

Parents will be devalued and family privacy shattered by the mass surveillance of all 12 million children in England and Wales, says a report today commissioned by Parliament's Information Commissioner. In what is likely to be a major embarrassment to Tony Blair, it says proposals for a £224 million database containing details of every child will waste millions of pounds, undermine parental authority and actually put children in more danger. Mr Blair defended the super nanny idea saying it was right to give families a "helping hand". "No one's talking about interfering with normal family life," he added.

Documents show U.S. Defense Department tracked anti-Iraq war activities

An anti-terrorist database used by the Defense Department in an effort to prevent attacks on military installations included intelligence tips about antiwar planning meetings held at churches, libraries, college campuses and other locations, newly disclosed documents show. McPhearson said he found the references to his group in the Talon database unsurprising and he said the group continued to use public settings and the Internet to plan its protests. "We don't have anything to hide," he said. "We're not doing anything illegal."

So in just three examples there, you could be watched in your own home by a military surveillance plane, all aspects of your kids' lives could be put on a database to make sure you are an adequate parent, and if you don't agree with a government policy you may be surveilled and placed on an anti-terrorist database. The information gathered will not be available to you but will be available to the government and the government's intelligence personnel.

Is all that OK so long as you have "nothing to hide"? Are you comfortable with that? Some may say "yeah but it probably won't happen to me." Well, you'll never know until your actions are deemed to be categorized by the authorities as "something wrong".

There are those who still deny that we have moved into a big brother society and that it affects their lives at all. For those who immediately think this applies to them, please watch this film.

These people, far from living in denial, have just not noticed all the methods of surveillance that they are under. This is not surprising, given that the very essance of surveillance is that it is covert. It is not arrogant or elitist to say this, after all how many people really know what the TALON programme is or how RFID works?

This is the most dangerous aspect of the big brother society, the fact that it is creeping and that there is always scope for expansion. How many times is it relevant to say "this will not erode your liberties" about another form of surveillance? If you took every aspect of the big brother society featured in the film linked above and suddenly introduced it all at once into a society where it was unknown, would the people therein consider it to be a threat to their liberties?

I think they'd consider it to be an all out war on them.

There is a government ploy of saying that if you have nothing to hide in our modern society you should react to these measures by being bold, up front and proud that you are a law abiding citizen, you should revel in the big brother society and not shrink away and try to avoid it.

In this sense the new forms of technology being used for surveillance and information gathering are pushed as progressive and a step in the right direction when they are in fact the exact opposite. Strip away all the technology and the myth that they keep you any safer (put everything under surveillance and you end up missing the real threats) and you are essentially left with a never ending multiplication of methods of covertly gathering information on everything you do. In a dictatorship this is progressive, in a free society it is regressive.






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