The Plastic Hippo

July 11, 2014

Sleep well

Banksy via streetartutopia.com

Banksy via streetartutopia.com

In these dark and perilous hours, my thoughts and prayers are with my fellow British citizens as we face the most grievous emergency to ever threaten the very existence of our proud and free nation.

Hoards of organised criminals, terrorists, perverts and Trade Unionists are openly conspiring to send each other pictures of sodding cats and are communicating via comments about TV programmes that nobody else is watching. It is vital that we remain vigilant against this unspeakable plot and happily wave goodbye to civil liberties justifiably sacrificed on the sacred alter of national security. In David Cameron we have a leader who is at last courageous enough steam roller emergency legislation to allow government free access to every snippet of electronic communication without the unnecessary delay of allowing elected MPs to actually debate or even read the DRIP bill.

Heroic Nick Clegg, formally a champion of civil liberties, agrees with the Prime Minister because that is what Nick Clegg has been ordered to do. He has welcomed the instant and un-scrutinised legislation as a “kick-start” for a national debate on mass surveillance. It seems that protecting individual freedom requires gathering and retaining private data of individuals and no amount of national debate can alter the fact that a very dodgy piece of “law” is being imposed with an indecent amount of haste. The dire calamity facing the nation requires action and DRIP expands on RIPA in allowing both central and local government to pursue and neutralise extremists placing food waste in recycling bins, combating benefit fraudsters and monitoring council workers who claim to be off sick. The hugely effective surveillance power granted under RIPA and now DRIP is, of course, only temporary and will be rescinded once the threat of terrorism has been conquered. In the killing fields of Syria, Iraq and Gaza, green wheelie bins are at less risk of contamination than ever before thanks to the harvesting of billions of bits of metadata.

Her Majesties Loyal Opposition also agree with the Prime Minister and support the government in needing to know what pizzas we order, who we befriend on Faceplant, what we RT on Gibber and when we look at websites advertising fertilizer. On the day that statesman to be Ed Miliband described strike action by public sector workers as “disruption”, he sealed a back room deal to bypass parliament and extend mass surveillance. Continuing the Blairite tradition of eroding liberty, he no doubt imagines waking up on the morning of 8 May 2015 knowing everything about everybody. Mr Miliband still has an awfully long way to go.

In these austere times brought about by nurses, teachers and fire fighters unreasonably demanding things like food, shelter and even wages, the DRIP legislation offers remarkably prudent value for money. Instead of employing an enormous army of intelligence officers to trawl through emails criticising the ruling elite, new technology allows algorithms to do the work for free in a cyberspace equivalent of Workfare. Key words programmed into the machine will identify and correlate threats, plots, perversion and criminality in less than a nanosecond and will automatically alert security agencies of impending doom. What could possibly go wrong?

Recently, the Conservative Party press office formerly known as the BBC ran an interesting documentary on Radio 4 about algorithms being employed as a tool to bolster national security through surveillance. In the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing, electronic monitoring was increased in the hope of detecting potential terrorist threats and in one household, a family member happened to search online for a new pressure cooker, then another family member later searched online for a new rucksack resulting in masked special forces breaking down the door at dawn accompanied by black helicopters hovering overhead. That last sentence has triggered alarm bells in a bunker somewhere beneath the Nevada desert and also in a large building somewhere in the environs of Cheltenham. As you read this, algorithms are engaging in a sordid threesome that is escalating into a rampant orgy of serious implication.

Our politicians are prepared to rush into law flawed legislation based on the flimsiest algorithmic logic whilst claiming to be protecting our freedom and security. Data retention might be a deterrent in combating heinous crimes but this does not seem to extend to dossiers not retained by the Home Office detailing the alleged heinous crimes of politicians. The government wishes to protect us from perverts yet simultaneously wish to protect perverts from us. By reading this blog post, you have ceased to be a citizen; you are now a suspect.

Have a nice day. Sleep well.

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