Having, through a mix of laziness, business & the 'we're all going on a summer holiday' feeling not blogged here for almost a month, I was kicked back into action by the report on Sky this morning that over the last year someone in Britain has been spied on by the 'powers that be' every minute.
That's right, every minute of last year someone has had their phone calls, their email, their text messages or their personal data 'snooped' on.
These surveillance powers were originally claimed by the government to be necessary to prevent terrorism. A laudable objective - saving lives & preventing another 07/07 has got to be good - right? Most of us would agree with that?
However, these powers were subsequently 'opened up' for the use of Local Authorities and a whole raft of of other groups - basically Uncle Tom Cobley and All - with the result that my local Council used surveillance powers meant to prevent terrorism, for checking where a 3 year old school place applicant lived and to spy on people shell fishing . Cambrideshire Council used these same powers to check up on paperboys' & girls' paperwork. It appears that Councils generally have been abusing these powers and are continuing to do so.
Back in February 2008, the BBC had this to say - and it looks as though things have only got worse. A worrying point, Google any of these links and the majority appear to be 2008 or earlier. Have these abuses become so commonplace that they're not even considered newsworthy now?
British people now live in the most spied upon state in the world (by its own government) according to an article & survey in The Register. Chris Huhne commented on TV this morning that the current government need to realise that 1984 was meant as a warning - not a blueprint.
So, under Gordon Brown we now have a surveillance state that Joseph Stalin could only dream about. Official snoopers that Erich Honecker and his East German Stasi would have given their eyeteeth for.
Peaceful protest appears to be no longer allowed with 145 complaints about police behaviour during the recent G20 protests and with at least one death under investigation.
Where did we go so badly wrong? Britain 2009 seems to be a million miles away from the country that Harry Patch and his friends fought for. How can we restore it?