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Thursday, February 19, 2009

The cost of the surveillance state

Yesterday's Times reports on estimates by the Convention on Modern Liberty that spending on computer systems ranging from the NHS Spine to the ID card register will amount to £34 billion over the next ten years.

Lord Bingham of Cornhill, the former Lord Chief Justice and a supporter of the Convention on Modern Liberty, believes that citizens should use the Human Rights Act to challenge the spread of the surveillance society:

“Perhaps the British are content to be the most spied-upon people in the democratic world,” he wrote in The Guardian. “But this would be surprising given their traditional belief that the state should mind its own business. The right to respect for private and family life embodied in the European Convention on Human Rights is not an ideal weapon to counter the growth of a surveillance society, but failing adequate regulatory oversight, it may be the best weapon there is.”

With a Home Office working party drawing up options for the surveillance of telephone calls, e-mails and text messages, including a huge government database our liberties and our freedoms can only diminish in future years.


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