Monday, September 23, 2013

Intrusion

 I watched a mini-series over the last few days called The Jury.  It dates from 2011, and stars Julie Walters and Stephen Mackintosh, along with many other well-known British faces. Though it's a bit over the top in terms of the back stories of the jurors, who have appear to have freedom to come and go even after they've been put in the retiring room, it's well-performed and put together.  Though I must say that the fact that the defendant has been within cooey of three murders is never satisfactorily explained.

In one of the courtroom scenes, however, there's a reconstruction of the defendant's movements on the night of the third murder.  At every point he's seen by a CCTV camera - except when they have their short time lapses (during one of which he manages to catch a passing bus).  It's the rather extraordinary state of affairs in the UK these days.  Some authorities reckon you can be caught on CCTV up to 200 times a day in London alone.  Certainly TV shows like to make it look as though the police can see everything people out on the streets have done 24/7, and in some cases, inside as well.

How did the UK get to this point of being so over-scrutinised, especially when they had the warnings from George Orwell so many years ago, in 1984?  An article on this subject by Henry Porter appeared recently in the Guardian, in which he questions the seeming blanket over the subject of Edward Snowden in the UK. Yet the privacy of citizens who have done nothing wrong is exposed day by day. This is a real concern.  Privacy appears to be increasingly being destroyed in what was a free country. 

I think New Zealand may be slowly going the same way, certainly under this current government.  And there are businesses that supply an increasing number of devices for checking people's identity and where they are. Crown Security Products is one such example, with its CCTV systems, its ID Scanners, fingerprint punch cards and more.  We've come to accept a lot of intrusion into our lives - not helped by the over-fearful Homeland Security ideas from the States.  But perhaps it's time to start asking why we're so happy to accept these?  All of them are intrusive (everyone who enters the courts in The Jury has to take off their shoes and put their phones and keys and coins and such under a scanner, just like at an airport).  But in fact the places where people are most fearful aren't actually in the UK, or the USA.  People living in Iraq must live in a constant state of fear, with umpteen deaths each day from suicide bombers and the like.  Why is it that countries in which this isn't happening are so fearful?
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