Thursday, 26 March 2009

Somebody's watching me...

Logging on to Google's Street View, I couldn't wait to find my own house. After struggling to get to grips with the cursor I soon spotted my front door (and my neighbour's ramshackle wall), and eagerly clicked for a closer look.
To my astonishment, the image was crystal clear - and I could even see a shadowy figure inside. Me.
I'm not sure when this image was taken. Clearly last summer, as the windows were open and the leaves were on the trees. Thankfully I was fully dressed. But still it feels like a gross invasion of privacy.
It's only a matter of time - if it isn't happening already - before we're being monitored by Blade Runner style technology, which enables the Government/Whoever to capture us in our most private moments. Sleeping. Having dinner. On the loo.
There have been plans mooted for monitoring facebook and other social networking activity - although thankfully this appears to be an unworkable proposal. But identity cards are still set to become a real (and expensive) part of our daily lives. The Home Office claims that the cards will 'help us prove who we are'. Presumably they will be able to round us up on street corners and demand 'where are your papers?' too.
The main thinking behind identity cards - and no, I'm not buying the 'easier access to services' line or even the prevention of identity theft - is that it will help prevent terrorism and help the Government get some sort of grip on immigration.
But identity cards would not have prevented the recent murders in Northern Ireland, or even 7/11 - atrocities committed by British citizens on British soil. It won't stop the incitement to hatred by legal immigrants. And I doubt very much whether it will stop the influx of illegal workers - only tighter border controls will do that.
Yet Home Secretary Jacqui Smith claims that abandoning the scheme now would cost the Government - or any subsequent Government - £40million.
That's an awful lot of police.

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