Citizen surveillance: it's not scary, it's snuggly

Americans are embroiled in a debate about surveillance and civil liberties that will be familiar to UK residents. The confirmation hearings for Gen. Michael Hayden as director of the Central Intelligence Agency have highlighted the dubious practice of spying on citizens. Here’s a short film that sums up both the US and UK governments’ attempts to justify intrusive surveillance:

Cartoon: Snuggly the Security Bear

‘We’re watching you…because we love you.’
If you believe that, you deserve to live in a police state. I go by Benjamin Franklin‘s saying: ‘They that can give up essential liberties to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.’

Intrusive surveillance does not make us safer or happier, but precisely the opposite. It breaks the bonds of community between individuals. It is a way for the state to accumulate power by turning us against our fellow citizens whom we are told are dangerous, in contrast to the protective state that loves us. History shows that it’s the all-powerful, paternalist state that we need to be most wary of. Handing over our individual liberties for the sake of a unspecified ‘safety’ takes us down a very unsafe path.

Cartoon: How to be Happy

Spying on citizens is par for the course in the UK – we are possibly the most spied upon nation on Earth. Without a written constitution, the Government has passed laws requiring internet and telephone companies to keep records of our calls and connections for up to seven years. There are little to no checks in the UK for overseeing wiretapping or covert surveillance by the state. While the Amercians make a hue and cry about surveillance, it seems the British are content to sleepwalk into totalitarianism.

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