Tuesday 3 April 2012

airstrip one or britons never will be slaves

There was a strange, quiet collusion, like a cold-shudder that’s inspired of unseen connections and truly action-at-a-distance, of proposals that came out of the UK government regarding freedom of movement and association. Though the latter, at native initiative, is probably destined to be diluted and pulled apart by public outrage and walked down by checks and balances (a government scheme to grandiosely expand the powers to survey the on-line activities of each and every citizens), the former concerning transportation, is a kowtowing to America’s security apparatus, which might well escape any vestige of debate or scrutiny and land flatly on the traveling public. The assault against the freedom of association, requiring internet service providers to bundle spying hardware with their routers that will log a user’s ambling and contacts (though apparently not the content of emails) seems too ambitious and ill-advised to achieve, like making a map that’s at a one to one ratio.
Such plotting is not good and even if it were technically possible and didn’t put undue hardship on ISPs to denigrate their customers, I wouldn’t be for such an invasion of privacy and violation of trust—though I do believe that such lofty plans are not airworthy and probably ought to be taken in perspective: people volunteer private information all the time on social networks and submit to having their boredom, curiosities and interests tracked by companies and services that may not be less trustworthy than the government. The surrender of freedom of movement is a more worrisome and novel development: US secret no-fly lists have taken on a bit of manifest destiny. A UK citizen, planning to fly to Canada, Mexico or even the Caribbean British holdings (and with no connecting-flight in the States and without passing through American airspace, just near it) could be denied boarding, without warning, if the individual (or someone bearing a similar name) is on the list or if due to bad record-keeping or technical difficulties, the computer cannot prove that the individual is not named therein. This of course has no relation to reality either (to remove oneself for a moment and remember that the intent is to keep people safe), but it’s like an American citizen being told that he or she cannot fly from Los Angeles to Honolulu because the Public Service Intelligence Agency of Japan has unclear or incomplete files on the traveler—but the denied passenger would never know even this much. It is something to send a chill down one’s spine.