Practice English Speaking&Listening with: BigBrother State

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If you ask a politician assigned to security matters today

what he or she thinks about the surveillance techniques

used to prevent crime,

there's a good chance that you'd be told about the benefits

of close-circuit camera systems.

You'd hear convincing arguments

about the additional safety in their vicinity

because they act as a crime deterrent.

Or you might hear about the virtue

of being able to track terrorists

by filing information about airline passengers

or by enforcing the use of biometric passports.

Maybe you'd find out how Trusted Computing

protects you from malicious software and viruses.

Or how scanning e-mails and eavesdropping on phone calls

helps the police find potential criminals of all kinds.

It would probably all sound great

because the idea is that you should start thinking

of these techniques as being the cream of the crop.

But let's face the not quite so obvious

but nonetheless omnipresent downside of all this.

While public cameras may actually help the police to find criminals,

modern CCTV systems like the ones used in London

are even today able to lock onto any person

the operators wish to track

using automatic facial identification.

Thus enabling the police to create

a detailed database of say

all of your movements.

The keeping of records about airline passengers flying to the US

and in addition the obligation for everyone

to submit biometric passports

are supposed to help fight terrorism.

But this also allows the secret services

to gather explicit information

about the nationality of every traveller.

Explicit information such as

your fingerprints, the colour of your eyes

and a high-resolution picture of your face.

Information you would usually expect

to be taken from suspected criminals.

Trusted Computing promises to enhance security on your PC

by only allowing certain trustworthy software

to run on your machine.

What you're not told is that the person who decides

which software you can trust

and are therefore allowed to install on your PC

will certainly not be you.

On the one hand scanning e-mails

and wiretapping phone calls for ominous keywords

could convict a few small-time criminals

but on the other it allows all sorts of people

involved in this monitoring process

to retrieve all sorts of private information.

Information you just might not want to share

with the staff of your local police station.

These symptoms can all be taken as evidence

of the slow but steady conversion

of our western societies into police states.

Our western societies claim to be liberal democracies

but our leaders try to enforce

more and more repressive laws

and instrumentalize the public fear of terror

to justify them.

The Description of BigBrother State