Friday, 19 April 2024

What The Papers Say – Big Brother is watching you!

FOR some time now, the National Liberal Party has featured a Letters of the Month section, which can be found here:

According to the introduction to the Letters of the Month section, it hosts letters published in local or national papers from members or supporters. We encourage you to write something that refers to the party or one of our policies.” Readers are asked to then send in copies of successfully printed letters to the NLPs e-mail address,

We’d now like to extend this idea to include articles that have appeared in the media (especially in the local media) which are broadly in accordance with our ideas. We believe that there are lots of people out there who are naturally ‘national liberal’ in their views – but are unaware that the NLP exist as a political movement! (However, it should be noted that, the printing of such articles in this new What the Papers Say section does not imply that the writer or the media source are official members or supporters of the NLP.)

To kick off this new series we reproduce an article by Laura Allen which appeared in issue 187 of the West Belfast-based Shankill Mirror. Originally published under the title My Two Nupes … it examines the growth of the surveillance state.

Big Brother is watching you!

I’M SURE most of you have tuned into the TV programme Big Brother at some point and thought about whether you would go into ‘the house’ or not, based on the idea of being watched 24/7 by the nation. But a more chilling reality is that each day we are being monitored, maybe not 24/7 or by the nation, but by the police, the government and private companies, among others.

Consider a simple trip to buy a loaf of bread, how often would you say you are ‘being watched’, maybe once or twice? If you drive to the shop you may be caught by a traffic camera or speed camera. Once you get to the shop you can guarantee that there will be multiple cameras recording your every move in the shop. And what about that security guard that keeps looking at you as if you are a thief while you innocently look at the bread, deciding which one to buy.

Using your loyalty card? That company now knows the time you shopped with them and what you bought, which is held with every other record of your visits and used to predict what you will buy next. If you pay by debit card your actions are logged once again. Then you leave and are recorded by the same cameras that recorded you on the way in.

I suppose you could wonder what the harm is, as long as you aren’t doing anything wrong there is nothing to worry about, at least that’s what many of the people that support all this surveillance say. But that’s not the point, we have a right to privacy, and every time our actions are monitored we are stripped of that privacy. Even in the safety of our own homes we can be monitored, every time you make a phone call, send an e-mail or text message, or even browse the web, there is a chance that your actions are being monitored.

There is also supposed to be new technology coming out soon that accurately predicts when and where your next move will be, based on the places you ‘check into’ on Facebook and other social networks. Consider that the next time you check in, it’s not just your friends you are alerting. That seems a bit creepy to me. The official reasoning for the increase in monitoring activities is that crime rates are increasing every year and so we need more surveillance to catch the criminals.

However, is it just me or should the crime rates not have went down since the first year that cameras were put in place for this purpose? If cameras really were the solution to the problem, the problem would be getting better, not worse each year. It seems to me that the 1.84 million cameras operating in the UK are not there for our own safety, but rather so that we can have an eye kept on us, literally. Safety for us or controlling us … you decide.

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