>> I'm not sure if this is simply because my own research is on popular
>> media forms rather than legal debates. Perhaps it is because critical
>> perspectives around these changes articulated in the popular press
>> etc. so often seem to be framed in a libertarian/individualist language
>> that I have theoretical problems with.
>I don't know - I thought the popular press was falling
>over itself to welcome the intrusions. It's
>certainly true that NooLabour seems to think that 'the
>people' positively welcome the idea of their e-mails
>being read. Apart from Video Nation and the rather
>obvious case of Big Brother, what other media examples
>can we come up with?
Time for a random sprawling brain-dump...
The kind of surveillance the media picks up on is almost always that to do
with the police service and its justification for solving serious crimes
(more generally - "the four horsemen of the infocalypse", aka terrorists,
kiddie porn, drug dealers, money launderers). Hence we see lots of juicy
stories about CCTV and RIPA and so on... less serious crime = a happy
public. But wait...
The most shady forms of surveillance are not those used by the police but
those used by other government departments (e.g. social security and customs
& excise), and large corporations with their customer profiling, data
mining, etc. Like so much in life it's about money, companies can improve
their profitability by "knowing your customers" and governments need to be
able to effectively collect taxes and avoid paying out benefits where
Look how economic security gets rapid and extreme reaction from authority,
i.e. nu-labour are drawing up "war plans" to defend our pertol supplies from
outlaws who are going to disrupt a government income stream - taxation on
petrol and potential loss of tax from loss of business across the country.
You can bet that anyone involved in this direct action has been extensively
snooped on of late.
National security = economic security, which is why policy and legislation
like RIPA appeared to be authored by GCHQ and NSA/USA, rather than Whitehall
[#1]. Echelon and other signals intelligence (SIGINT) protect national
security by providing economic intelligence. I doubt crime even registers in
the thoughts of it's operators. The irony being, as I mentioned earlier,
that crime prevention is the justification. We are being gradually
conditioned in a multitude of ways that it is against our interest to desire
These are only observations [#3] and not being a social scientist I've no
idea how all this fits in with social theory. Over to you...
[#1] Initially, the controversial sections of RIPA were to be in the e-comms
bill, and included the infamous key escrow proposals - an idea thought of
and promoted vigorously by USA NSA. Two things stack up to suggest that NSA
and GCHQ controlled the policy, a) UK was the only country in Europe insane
enough to even consider key escrow, b) the rapid policy switch following the
1997 election - conservatives suddenly opposed key escrow and nu labour
suddenly decided they did support it after opposing the tories when in
opposition. Enough paranoid rambling though...
[#2] Privacy has only really existed for a short time. Before the industrial
revolution everyone lived in small communities and knew each other. Privacy
is bound up in the notions of 'trust' and 'relationship' in that the more
you know and trust someone the less you need your privacy protecting from
them. In big cities and on the 'net you know but few people and hence desire
protection from the lack of trust and relationship with others.
[#3] I've been on the net way too long for my own good ;-)