I do not normally endorse or promote commercial enterprise. But I would wish to commend Amazon Prime for their video production series entitled ‘The Man in the High Castle’. Without detailing too much of the plot-lines, the series is based around a Philip K Dick novel which described a modern-day world where America lost the war, and the German Reich rules over Eastern America, with the Western States under the iron fist of Japan.
I will not publish spoilers, but instead would focus on two areas of life under the depicted Nazi rule: one is surveillance, the other is of the Nazi ideology regarding family life.
The heroine, escaping from the Resistance who believe she is a deadly threat, claims asylum in German-dominated New York, and is housed in a womens’ dormitory/ apartment complex. Every area of the flat is covered by CCTV, and she is also recorded speaking with a troubled young man in the apartment corridor; and that conversation detected and is shown to the youngster’s father; who is head of the Nazi leadership in America.
The wife of the Head of the State Broadcasting believe she is a failure as a Nazi wife because, once again, she receives definite proof of her inability to conceive a child; and is fearful that she will be replaced with a younger, and presumably more fertile model.
In the world as depicted by ‘The High Castle’, there are still no computers, but the Nazis still manage a fair representation of the total Police State in their absence. Surveillance by both the Japanese Kempeitai, and the Nazi Gestapo is overwhelming, and their actions and interrogations are as in reality, back in the real 1940’s.
The reason for this particular essay is quite simple; the Government’s new Digital Economy Bill is returning for Report and Committee stages, and the Guvminnt’s ideas about how your data is stored, shared and used is truly spectacular.
What you are most likely to have missed is the bit about Digital Government. The part which will personally impact you more than anything else; the part about how the state wants to take control of your personal information and share it without your consent, knowledge or right to amend.
Any piece of personal information you are asked to hand over to the state – and it is a lot more than you realise – will be subject to broad sharing capabilities. Not only will it be passed around government, but it will be shared on request with local councils, quangos, statistical authorities, charities and businesses.
Yes business. Initially, gas and electricity companies. But despite promises, it is entirely conceivable that private health providers, credit reference agencies and insurance companies will be lined up further down the line as those “specified persons” with permission to access and make decisions about your personal information.
The Bill’s intention is to create better data sharing gateways. The plans to digitise our birth, death, marriage and civil partnership certificates – which will be stored and shared in bulk – will make the sharing of our personal information as easy as clicking a mouse. There will be no requirement for them to consult you. You won’t be asked in advance, you won’t even be told after the event and you won’t have the chance to opt out.
Worried? You should be. Do you remember the ID card furore before the 2010 general election? The scheme was axed at great expense when public support for the plans plummeted after it was revealed that HMRC had lost personal information belonging to 25 million child benefit claimants.
Only then did the reality of how insecure our data is sink in. It’s worth noting the lost information still hasn’t been recovered almost 10 years later.
Don’t be fooled that things have improved. In 2014/15 government departments experienced almost 9,000 data breaches, according to a recent National Audit Office report.
Read the Big Brother pages, and then contact your MP, the person who is supposed to represent YOU, and tell them what you think of this disgraceful piece of legislation!