Illusions of Security: Global Surveillance and Democracy

The World Trade
Centre was still smoking when US lawmakers hastily passed the PATRIOT Act, and in
UK, it wasn't much longer before Parliament enacted the
comparable Anti-Terrorism, Crime, and Security Act). Objections to the PATRIOT
Act are legion, and they have been well documented.  

Less well
documented – until now – is how the PATRIOT Act and the mindset accompanying it
have played themselves out in the lives of real people. A book review in the Register
highlights a book by author Maureen Webb and her book Illusions of Security:
Global Surveillance and Democracy in the Post-9/11 World

A visitor to the US can now expect to be fingerprinted (all
ten digits), registered, and monitored. More than 80,000 people were registered
in the first year of the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System
(NSEERS), which requires registrants to report changes of address, employment
and other details.  

At the same time
US government ethnically profiled and rounded up Arab
and South Asian men, often for trivial reasons. More than 13,000 people were
detained and put into deportation hearings in NSEERS' first year. In one case
Webb notes, a man was arrested after casually saying he'd like to learn to fly
one day.

These tales are
the tip of the iceberg. Many countries, including the
UK, are shifting to biometric passports (if
not ID cards) and putting in the infrastructure for a global surveillance
system. The much-maligned Total Information Awareness programme
that proposed to mine commercial and government databases never really went
away, instead its spirit lives on in programmes such as the National
Intelligence Program and Secure Flight. In the UK the National Identification Register and the NHS Spine, and in
Europe the eID programme and projects such as IDABC are aligned
to the TIA programme. 

The key to
understanding all this a major shift in thinking to “pre-emption of
risk”. Instead of waiting for a crime to be committed and suspects to be
investigated, prosecuted, and convicted, the
US government adopted the idea of pre-empting
and disrupting terrorism. Such a profound policy shift justifies any amount of
surveillance or guilt by association. And it isn't just the

Governments share
suspects, intelligence operation, and policing, and are willing to jettison
democracy in return. 

The pre-emptive
model means our liberty and lives can be removed at any time on the most
uncertain evidence, denied any right to face our accusers, and presumed guilty.
Is that greater security?




About IanPJ

Ian Parker-Joseph, former Leader of the Libertarian Party UK, who currently heads PDPS Internet Hosting and the Personal Deed Poll Services company, has been an IT industry professional for over 20 years, providing Business Consulting, Programme and Project Management, specialising in the recovery of Projects that have failed in a process driven world. Ian’s experience is not limited to the UK, and he has successfully delivered projects in the Middle East, Africa, US, Russia, Poland, France and Germany. Working within different cultures, Ian has occupied high profile roles within multi-nationals such as Nortel and Cable & Wireless. These experiences have given Ian an excellent insight into world events, and the way that they can shape our own national future. His extensive overseas experiences have made him all too aware of how the UK interacts with its near neighbours, its place in the Commonwealth, and how our nation fits into the wider world. He is determined to rebuild many of the friendships and commercial relationships with other nations that have been sadly neglected over the years, and would like to see greater energy and food security in these countries, for the benefit of all. Ian is a vocal advocate of small government, individual freedom, low taxation and a minimum of regulation. Ian believes deeply and passionately in freedom and independence in all areas of life, and is now bringing his professional experiences to bear in the world of politics.
This entry was posted in Main Page. Bookmark the permalink.