madly in love with Iraq

18.5.06

Are we being watched or watched over?

When surveillance cameras were fitted in underground stations, major streets and busy areas, the idea was welcomed by many.
And promising more and more of these cameras was the key to win local council elections. In practice these cameras meant safety, and proved to be effective in deterring crime, drug-dealing and vandalism.

Earlier this year I had to do a one day training somewhere in east London. On my way back I asked for a receipt for my travel card to get a reimbursement from work. I had a quick look at the receipt and to my astonishment I found my name and all my movements throughout the day between buses and trains registered on it with the exact hours!

When the identification card bill was introduced to the parliament, one of the given reasons was of course protecting the nation from terrorism. (The UK is one of the few remaining countries in the world where carrying an ID card is not required).

These cards are not like any normal ones, they will be connected to a database, where everyone’s personal details would be stored. It will include your fingerprints, scan of your iris, and unlimited other details. They do say it will be voluntary, but everybody knows it will be compulsory.
Here they don’t jail or humiliate you, but I would assume one won’t be able to move without having one.

A new policy of “who you are” will be applied; the cards will be swiped in post offices, pharmacies, in banks, and definitely when buying cigarettes or alcohol.

Those cards will control peoples’ lives, their savings, their shopping, and practically every single thing they do. It will violate the privacy of a very private and free nation.

The irony is that the people themselves pay for these services under the rule of democracy.

I thought the above might be an ideal solution to the security crisis in Iraq, and then I imagined if all these information would fall in the wrong hands at these terrible times!
I thought no, getting that personal is dangerous under any circumstances war or peace.

Still, I did not take this news as badly as a lot of native citizens did.

The inside of hala_s is somehow still the same. For me the ID is only a proof of who I am, and that I have paid all my taxes and done nothing wrong.
For them the ID card is an insult! Just asking for it, means being accused of doing something illegal!

One of my colleagues was saying “We are paying the government to serve us, not to interfere in our lives. I think we are being punished for the mess they’ve caused in Iraq”.

Once and along time ago the system in here was built on trust, it is no more the same.


Some blame immigrants and asylum seekers for this distrust; yes, they might have contributed a bit, but are they the real culprit?

50% of the world crises to say the least were instigated by the super powers, sometimes by indirect provocation, sometimes by direct assaults.

Their reckless strategies and crazy attempts to discipline the world have only resulted in the loss of thousands of innocent lives, let alone the build up of hate and anger all over.

The ordinary person in here would think what is the gain? Is it the nearly £1 per litre petrol? Or the police state the country is gradually turning into?

But the big people are making money and a lot of it.

Greed is the real culprit.

14 Comments:

  • Hala,

    I live under another greedy colonial power, none other than the US, but the difference is that here people would not even question something like that! When they should. Look at the whole telephone spying fiasco. It was stopped even before it could be investigated, and people didn’t think twice about it! I think that the war against the tyrannical regime in Iraq has turned the aggressors into tyrants themselves as they attempt to 'defend' their stance on this cruel aggression. They seem to find more and more petty reasons to 'terrorize' people and make them live in constant fear...not at all unlike the regime they conquered in Iraq! Again, thanks for your deep insights. You always touch upon issues that need to be addressed to the core, and yet are normally overlooked!

    ZZ

    By Blogger ZZ, at 9:50 pm  

  • I think it is a scary development with all the surveillance everywhere. The minister of justice in Sweden is constantly proposing new laws that makes it easier to keep track of what the population is doing. Fortunately not all of his laws becomes accepted, but many do, and I don't trust him when he says the laws will be used only against major criminals and terrorists. Even if that should be true, the current government cannot make promises concerning how future governments will use the information.

    The government will soon have the possibility to know almost everything about us. They will know where we are at all times, who we call, which sites we visit on the internet, what we buy and with the RFID-tags (that probably will be used widely soon) they will even know what we have in our bags. (For more about RFID read here: http://www.junkbusters.com/rfid.html)

    Even if the government should not misuse the surveillance-system, some person with access to the information might misuse it. Someone curious about a person can look up if he/she goes to gay bars, visits communist pages on the internet or shops sex toys etc etc.

    I'm not looking forward to a world with no, or very little, privacy.

    By Anonymous Tim, at 6:42 am  

  • Tim, I can only say AMEN to that!

    By Blogger ZZ, at 3:54 pm  

  • I would think in Iraq if such a system is introduced it would Garantee my "not disapearing" Illegaly but may also Garantee my disapearing legally depending on who has what information.

    By Blogger Zappy!, at 9:52 am  

  • I would think it being introduced to the U.K. will limit the number of dependants on wellfair :)

    By Blogger Zappy!, at 9:54 am  

  • Zappy,
    You're right about 'who gets the information and how it is used'. On a universal level, information that can bring more unnecessary harm than good by falling into the wrong hands should not be collected in the first place. I think in this instance it's more the method and nature of information that is being collected. How can you guarantee, for instance, that an individual's shopping preferences will not be recorded and SOLD (yes this type of information can be sold for a price) to the wrong party?...Eventually, YOU pay the price with a mail box full of unwanted JUNK! Also, if someone doesn't like the sound of your name, and the color of your skin, it's much easier to 'frame' a case against you with data that can really abused for any purpose!

    By Blogger ZZ, at 4:00 am  

  • Hala,
    May be we are actually witnessing the change of democracy “as we know it, at least”.
    You know, fear can make people surrender their rights voluntarily in exchange for promised protection . I mean, even over hear in Baghdad, people who were strongly against Saddam and his brutality are reconsidering now ( can you imagine that ). Living in constant danger is making them nostalgic to the good old days, when a bird couldn't fly without a thick mustached security official ( Abu El Amin ) questioning it where is it flying too . Fear has proven to be the strongest of weapons, and the verified way leading to domination .
    Anyway happy cursing in the undergrounds :)

    By Anonymous The Iraqi Roulette, at 1:03 pm  

  • "Living in constant danger is making them nostalgic to the good old days, when a bird couldn't fly without a thick mustached security official ( Abu El Amin ) questioning it where is it flying too . Fear has proven to be the strongest of weapons, and the verified way leading to domination ."

    A funny comment but a true one. Fear is a tool of the powerful to keep the masses under control.

    By Blogger Bruno, at 2:28 pm  

  • Again Bruno, AMEN!!

    By Blogger ZZ, at 4:42 pm  

  • It is a differant world since 9/ll; we can all acknowledge that. Terrorists have used our freedoms to attack us and live amongst us undetected. Surveillance is necessary and has had success in apprehending criminals and terrorists. Let's not get paranoid or wimp out now, we are in the middle of an international war. Free countries, citizens, law enforcement; we need to support each other for the common safety of everyone.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:58 pm  

  • anonymous: The world is different since 9/11 because many politicians quickly grasped the chance to impose new surveillance laws. We have no terrorist attacks in Sweden and I seriously doubt that the laws will prevent any terrorist attacks here.

    Most crimes are actually committed in peoples homes, especially rape and physical abuse. Maybe we should have cameras installed in every room to prevent this from happening?
    Cameras don't make me feel any safer, I don't trust my government and I don't know how they use the information they gather.

    By Anonymous Tim, at 4:12 am  

  • The problem is that there will be no end to this.This time next year something else will come up. The constant use of advanced technology for the wrong purposes from wars to surveillance will not make it a safer world. If these developed countries have invested all this money in supporting other deprived ones rather than trying to milk them and tie them with series of unfair treaties. Or let it be on cancer research if they dont want to do that. But what is happening is they want to control the world by inflicting struggles here and there and meanwhile trying to convince their people that they are only protecting them from terrorism. I am sure they will fall gradually in the same trap and become prisoners in their own countries.

    By Blogger hala_s, at 9:50 am  

  • Here in Lithuania mass media are bringing up problems like Iraq war and London underground terrorist attacks but no one ever mentioned about this things. I guess U.S. of A (or other country with power)is keeping strings very tight. And doesn't let our media to inform people of this.
    Anyway in maybe 10-20 years we'll see example of George Orwell's 1984 in real life.
    It's great that you mates are talking about this and doing something because if you'll mention things like hidden surveillance cameras or ID cards in Lithania you'll be paranoic in the eyes of everyone.

    By Anonymous Dim, at 10:21 am  

  • hackers dreams? isn't it legal to hack in some places in the uk? wow, sounds like a hackers/crackers/phishermans/phreakers paradise. and if the feds are pissed off at you, fedville's paradise.

    but also it monitors crimes such as buying alcohol for minors, helps prevent identity theft. it is pretty hard to steal someone's iris prints, unless you deal with highly professional skilled spies that take pictures of your retinas. thank goodness for optometrists right? fingerprints? pissed off cops with your fingerprints? banks? only time will tell right?

    all they need now are x ray cameras to see what types of panties and bras fine women are wearing. buh du dum....chaa!

    or x ray cameras to see if thugs, criminals, or even slaughter/massacre peoples are packing heat. for all those attending blacksburg, virginia or friends/family, my heart goes out to you all. domestic disputs are such a trajedy. esp when schools are targets. may God watch over us all.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:00 am  

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