Location: United Kingdom

A Naija Guy living (and loving) in the UK.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

CCTV in England, ID Cards and the Big Brother State

In 1949, George Orwell released his novel called "Nineteen Eighty-Four". The novel told the story of Winston Smith, a minor bureaucrat in the totalitarian state of Oceania where privacy has vanished and all Party members are observed by two-way telescreens and there are posters everywhere proclaiming; BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU (the book actually coined the phrase 'Big Brother'). Over 50 years after the publication of 1984, Britain has started to imitate the State of Oceania.

If you live and work in London chances are you are being caught over 300 times a day on Camera . Britain has the highest number - per person - of CCTV (Closed Circuit Television) cameras in the world including countries with a much higher crime rates such as the USA. There are CCTV cameras on the Underground, buses, shopping malls and our high streets. It is estimated that there are over four million CCTV cameras in the UK, one for every 14 residents. Since 1994, the Home Office has spent a staggering 78% of its crime prevention budget on CCTV cameras.

On Identity Cards
The Blair Government recently introduced the Identity Cards Act 2006. This means the government has the power to introduce identity cards in stages.The first phase will include biometrically updating passports and driving licences - including fingerprints, eye or facial scans. A voluntary ID card will then be introduced in 2008 and people applying for passports will have their details put on the national identity register. From 2010 people applying for passports will also be issued with an ID card. The Civil liberties group Liberty have argued that these measures will worsen harassment of ethnic minorities and provide another pretext for stop-and-search (reintroduction of the old 'suss' measures) often directed at black people in particular. The original pretext for introducing the ID cards was the war against Terror. The Home Secretary argued that Identity cards would make it harder for terrorists to enter the UK and adopt false and multiple identities. All the four suicide bombers killed on the Public Transport system last year on 7 July were British Citizens.

Are these measures actually going to make us safer or are we just giving up our civil liberties in an effort to 'feel' safer?


Anonymous aihammed delot said...

1984 is actually one of my favourite all time books and it really puts things into perspective: from government deception to the inevitability of the dominance of imposed political structural systems - the book is classic and contains blaring undertones of the society we live in - particularly the war on terror. how the introduction of fear is the best means of controlling people and the role in which the media plays in all this. Orwell was absolutely brilliant - however i'm told his inspiration for the boook was by a russian author (cant remember his name) but the book is called "WE" - it predates Orwell's 1984 and Orwell is said to have been inspired greatly by it. havent read and and i wont cos i dont want to take anything from the great man himself.
I guess my description above is self explanatory really. with 1984 in mind, i find it really really hard to comment on anything political - theres just the daunting reality which exists at the back of my mind that i'm involved in a system which overtly controls everysingle thing i do regardless of whether i'm aware of my actions or not. there are people playing political games with our social structures and existences that we cant even fathom - this world is funny.
the answer to your qestion is that i wholly feel the introduction of all these measures has absolutely nothing to do with the war against terror. in fact, i dont think theres a war against terror - more people died from drink driving accidents last year than did in the terrorist attacks - is there a war against drink drivers? i'm not scared of terrorists. i am scared however of some faceless soul having everysingle detail of my life in front of a computer screen just cos i'm attempting to extract a tenner from a cash mashine - thats some unnecessary, 1984, bigbrotherish shit right there. but its inevitable and the state always wins - Orwell was a genius. Fantastic reference.

11:45 am, July 03, 2006  
Blogger Morountodun said...

The russian dude you were thinking of is Yevgeny Zamyatin he wrote 'We'. I must admit I haven't actually read 1984 but watched it in the Theatre in London a couple of years ago. Wikipedia have an good write up on him at

Royalty reward schemes ie Tesco Cards (designed to enable the supermarkets to track your spending habits), Oyster Cards (enables London Underground to track ALL your travel on its networks, they have promised to 'only' keep records for two years), Store Cards (same as Reward Schemes) etc am I being paranoid or is big brother watching us all for real?

12:45 pm, July 03, 2006  
Anonymous aihammed delot said...

cheers for the link man. You're not being paranoid oh! big brother really is watching and the funny thing about is that we think we're still in control.

2:35 pm, July 03, 2006  
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If the ID Card contains RFID (wireless transmitting of data), you can at least turn that off.

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