The thoughts George Orwell expressed in ‘1984’, his cautionary tale of state control, have been vindicated by time.
Last week, the Investigatory Powers Act slipped, almost unnoticed, into law, granting the British state the ability to indiscriminately hack the communications and internet use of the entire UK population. Internet service providers are now required to store details of everything people do online – and make that information accessible to a range of public authorities. US whistleblower, Edward Snowden tweeted: “The UK has just legalised the most extreme surveillance in the history of western democracy. It goes further than many autocracies.”
Under the guise of counter-terrorism, the Government has extended state surveillance powers beyond those exposed by Snowden in 2013. Is the government really justified in considering all this information fair game against people it suspects of terrorism or other crimes? Some will argue that the law simply ratifies what the state has been doing for many years with impunity, but it’s still a disturbing development, not least because it serves as a precedent for other, more authoritarian nations to follow.
At a time when intelligence officers admit they may use information transmitted to the internet from a whole raft of home appliances and electronic devices fitted with a computer chip (e.g. washing machines, televisions, fridges, thermostats and video game players), it’s bewildering that the mainstream media has turned a blind eye and the privacy lobbies have offered no more than token resistance.
This is the price we pay for devastatingly poor political opposition.