Surveillance Increases in Great Britain

Using the “war on terror” to build an atmosphere of permanent warfare has dire consequences for civil liberties both here and abroad. I’ve previously written about spy cameras and other infringements upon civil liberties in Great Britain, wondering if they are using Orwell’s work as a blueprint for their war on terrorism. The Times of London reports on further plans for developing a surveillance society:

CHILDREN aged 11 to 16 are to have their fingerprints taken and stored on a secret database, internal Whitehall documents reveal.

The leaked Home Office plans show that the mass fingerprinting will start in 2010, with a batch of 295,000 youngsters who apply for passports.

The Home Office expects 545,000 children aged 11 and over to have their prints taken in 2011, with the figure settling at an annual 495,000 from 2014. Their fingerprints will be held on a database also used by the Immigration and Nationality Directorate to store the fingerprints of hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers.

The plans are outlined in a series of “restricted” documents circulating among officials in the Identity and Passport Service. They form part of the programme for the introduction of new biometric passports and ID cards.

Opposition politicians and privacy campaigners warn that the plans show ministers are turning Britain into a “surveillance society”

There are also plans to increase the use of ID cards, and ultimately make them compulsory:

The documents show that ID cards will not be made compulsory for more than a decade, under present plans. “Compulsion will be triggered once 80% take-up is achieved in [the first quarter of] 2019,” they state. “It is assumed that, following compulsion, a 100% registration will be achieved two years later.”

The prime minister has hailed the ID cards scheme as the centrepiece of efforts to combat terrorism and illegal immigration, as well as identity theft and benefit fraud. But opponents dismiss it as a “Big Brother” scheme that is too expensive, poorly planned and unlikely to function efficiently.

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