Tucked away on page 6 of last Friday's Metro
, the London commuter freesheet, was a small article credited to Aidan Radnedge: Police gadgets to take info off mobile phones
. (Note the title of the on-line version has been amended to include the word suspects).
As usual, this is something that is being sprung on the public with no consultation - that is assuming we should even have the right to vote away the privacy of our fellow citizens. Currently such terminals are being introduced in no less than 16 London boroughs, according to this article.
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Stephen Kavanagh is quoted: “Mobiles are increasingly being used in all levels of criminal activity”.
These gadgets will be able to gather such information as texts, call history and contact numbers. This is of innocent people, possibly witnesses or even potential witnesses to possible crimes, and it is to be allowed without warrant.
A recent Channel 4 programme in the Dispatches
series revealed a massive trade in personal data and information, much of it obtained by dubious or even outright illegal methods. The programme recruited volunteers whose personal data was accessed, including medical records. A doctor who appeared in the programme warned this could have serious consequences for the general public. If people don't have confidence in their doctors, that what they tell them is totally confidential, they may withhold information that in some circumstances could be essential to a proper diagnosis. It doesn't take any great medical knowledge to understand how this could have fatal consequences for some people. The symptoms of prostate cancer in men include blood in the urine or semen and a painful erection. Not a few men would be wary of answering the question “Do you have problems with your erection?” if they suspected an affirmative reply may find its way into the hands of a private investigator.
Another problem with the police and other state agencies collecting our personal data is that most of these people have sick minds that are apt to find sinister connections where none exist. Consider the following hypothetical scenario:
You are walking home in the small hours when across the road from you is an explosion. The police turn up, take statements, and swipe your mobile phone just to be on the safe side. A couple of days later you read in the local press that the explosion that destroyed the surgery of the local Conservative MP had been traced to a gas leak - both crime and terrorism have been ruled out.
The following week you are stopped in the street by a man who says he is collecting for Afghan refugees. He shows you harrowing photographs of homeless women and kids; you don't have any cash on you, but you make a donation on your Visa card.
A year or two later while you are working on your dissertation about war in the 21st Century, a colleague suggests you attend a Stop The War Coalition
meeting, where you are photographed by the secret police.
Two years later, you see an advertisement for Party Poker - your chance to win a seat in a big Las Vegas poker tournament plus an all expenses paid trip with spending money, just like it did for this year's Aussie Millions
. Heck, I played poker at university, and I was rather good at it, you think. You sign up with the site, enter a freeroll
, and win it. This feeds into a satellite, and amazingly, after half a dozen or more qualifiers, together with 11 other lucky people are on your way to Las Vegas.
Now, you have a thought, you have always wanted to research at the Library of Congress, so you send a few e-mails, and a week before the tournament you fly not to Las Vegas but to Washington where you plan to do some research for a few days before taking a domestic flight. You get off the plane at Dulles International Airport only to be taken aside by security, who inform you that you are on a no-fly list. You are astounded as you are asked to explain why you were at the scene of an explosion four years ago, why you made a donation to charity that has been used to raise funds for Al-Qaeda, and why you have been attending anti-war demonstrations in the UK.
“That's ludicrous”, you say, “I came here to play poker.”
“Of course you did, sir, that's why you came to Washington not Las Vegas. Now who was that man you were talking to at Heathrow? The one with an English translation of the Qur'an
under his arm.”
If this scenario sounds contrived, this is how the minds of the police and all security agencies work. Yes, they do need to have nasty, suspicious minds, but at times these suspicions border on the ridiculous or even the surreal.
, you should have no doubts about this, once the police in particular have your personal data, it will be retained, and it will very likely be traded or passed on to third parties. If they claim to have destroyed it, they lied. Think not? Read this letter
. This is an assurance by a police officer relating to two computers seized in a raid, one that typically resulted in no charges when the plod concerned realised that proceeding with the investigation would have involved putting one of their own kind in the frame. The assurances given were a) that both machines were undamaged and b) that no data had been retained. One of the machines had indeed been damaged, as DC Taylor knew at the time, but four years later at Central London County Court, the claim was made that this machine had been damaged before it was seized, and to prove
this, the police produced the backup that Taylor had claimed didn't exist.
That means it is quite likely that backups of all the tens or even hundreds of thousands of computers the police have seized from countless suspects and victims over the years have been kept, and for all anyone knows used for unethical or even illegal purposes. Perhaps even to frame innocent people for crimes. Anyone who believes the police wouldn't do this should think again, lying comes second nature to all police officers: dishonesty and arrogance are the hallmarks of their trade. Now extend that to not just the British police but worldwide.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the Atlantic, in the country that revolted against the British Crown over a tax on tea
, a surveillance drone has been spotted near Chicago. These are the machines that have been used both to spy on and to kill terrorists - and innocent people - in the Middle East and Afghanistan. Other reports on drones
- what is happening now and what is to come - are far more pessimistic.
Last week it was reported that a certain Henry Kissinger
had been stopped by the TSA at an American airport and given a full body check. Kissinger is one of the people A.K. Chesterton referred to as our new unhappy lords
. Whether or not the TSA agents concerned recognised Kissinger, that should be a lesson for all statists and most especially to all police officers. When the total police state arrives, they will be subjected to the same treatment as the rest of us. If they, and you, want to prevent this from happening, better do something about it now. Tomorrow, it might be too late.