When even a Labour dominated Commons Committee concludes we are in danger of becoming a Surveillance Society, it shows the penny is at last dropping. 4.2 million spy cameras watch our many moves, especially when driving. Every government department you deal with demands all kinds of personal information, so it too has something it can lose or send around the country on a DVD. The government is ploughing on with its deeply distrusted and much disliked central Identity computer and associated cards. All this is done in the name of safety and greater security, yet there is precious little evidence it is disrupting terrorists or big time money criminals who have the organisation and the resources to get around the road blocks placed by HMG.
To most of us it seems they target the law abiding, tighten the rules to try to get some to make technical mistakes when following them, and send us a whopping bill for the trouble. It is possible now to commit offences by failing to remember all the information they demand or by making a mistake when filling in one of the many overlong forms. We are all expected to keep in mind a whole library of code names and numbers, to have ready recall of whether we had to offer our mother’s maiden name or the name of our favourite pet for a particular purpose, and have endless time available to offer all this information before carrying out simple transactions.
We would all like the government to back off a bit. It seems as if this government’s preferred bedtime reading is 1984, as they hone the thought police and design the forms around making our lives as difficult and unpleasant as possible. Far from offering us public service, so many departments interrogate us as if we were criminals, and set us tests that could make a criminal of the careless or the unsuspecting.
The ID card and computer is the big one, trying to link it altogether. If they would just stop that it would save us a pile of cash and would send a signal that at last the government’s Ministers as well as the backbench Labour MPs have got it.