Not Saussure

November 6, 2006

Depends on the question, I suppose

Filed under: Blair, civil liberties, ID cards — notsaussure @ 10:30 am

Tony Blair, as part of his farewell tour, gives a reprise of that ever popular comedy number, ‘We need ID cards to secure our borders and ease modern life’ in today’s Telegraph:

It was also very clear from last week’s arguments about surveillance and the DNA database that the public, when anyone bothers to ask them, are overwhelmingly behind CCTV being used to catch or deter hooligans, or DNA being used to track down those who have committed horrific crimes. And that’s what surveys suggest, too, about their position on ID cards.

Well, yes; I’m sure, if you ask them, most people are in favour of CCTV being used to catch or deter hooligans, just as I’m sure most people are rather dubious about there being, apparently, one CCTV camera for every 14 people and about being filmed up to 300 times a day when they’re just going about their business, with hooligans still remaining, apparently, resolutely undeterred.

A better question might be,

Given what you know about the effectiveness and cost of CCTV cameras in practice, do you think they’re actually deterring or catching many hooligans, and, if you do think they’re fit for purpose, do you also think they’re a proportionate response to the problem, given their various disadvantages?

An even better, more general, question would be,

How do you feel about this government treating everyone, including you, as a suspect whose every move and action must be recorded and cross-referenced by the authorities, and how far do you think you can trust this same governments’ constant assurances that there’s absolutely nothing to worry about since you know you can rely on their probity, competence and good judgment?


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