UK: technology to the rescue

January 18, 2008 at 11:44 pm 1 comment

It is surprising to see the extent to which authorities in the UK have put their faith in technology to solve social and cultural problems. Civil liberties and the protection of privacy that generations of British citizens have fought for have, over the past few years, been rapidly sacrificed at the altar of technology. In my opinion, this faith is greatly misplaced.

Take the latest proposal which can only be described as daft.

Authorities want to chip prisoners to free up space in British jails. RFID chips injected under the skin are a first step, adding GPS for satellite tracking the next. Can someone please tell them what it’ll take to make an injected RFIP chip trackable by satellite?

Ken Jones, the president of the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo), says “If we are prepared to track cars, why don’t we track people?” I wonder if it crossed his mind that perhaps people are different from cars. For that matter, chipping people is also different to chipping animals…

I liked the response of Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, who said, “If the Home Office doesn’t understand why implanting a chip in someone is worse than an ankle bracelet, they don’t need a human-rights lawyer; they need a common-sense bypass.”

It’s worth UK citizens asking themselves some questions. The UK has the highest prison population per capita in Western Europe. Do they really think that technology is going to solve this? When should the relentless slashing of civil liberties and privacy protection stop? Are all the security measures being put into place actually solving security problems or are they just security theatre?

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Entry filed under: government, personal_info, privacy, UK.

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