Best Reason Yet to Leave Facebook?

Because the British government wants to keep an eye on everything you do there and store it in a database. For you own safety and security, of course. Just in case you might happen to be a terrorist.

There’s lots being said about this today. Here are The Independent, The Guardian, the BBC and Nick Harkaway.

Probably the thing that worries me most about this is that the authorities generally don’t have a clue about how social networks are used. Many of us routinely accept “friend” requests from anyone who comes along, because we are public figures and it would be considered rude not to do so. But what happens if someone who friends you later turns out to actually be a terrorist, or a sex offender, or an illegal immigrant? Are you suddenly going to find yourself under investigation as an associate of this person? Unfortunately I suspect you are.

The other thing that worries me is that this renders any privacy systems that Facebook and the like might have in place useless, because all of the information will be available via the government databases which will almost certainly not be properly secured.

By the way, before anyone starts, I know the title was unfair to Facebook. The government wants to go after all social networks. They also want to keep track of every email you send, and every web site you visit. They are an equal opportunity snoop.

And finally, while we are on the subject, Joe Gordon reminds us that our ever-vigilant MPs have once again been passing laws that are so vague that any crank who happens to have a position of authority to use them to save children from the evils of comic books. Petition here. UK citizens go sign please.

George Orwell wants to be your friend. Do you know Mr. Orwell? Or his friend, Winston Smith?

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3 Responses to Best Reason Yet to Leave Facebook?

  1. RN Lee says:

    George Orwell wants to be your friend. Do you know Mr. Orwell? Or his friend, Winston Smith?

    I think half my country, anyway, is a little more concerned with the question “Who is John Galt?” at the moment. Which is a little unnerving.

  2. Joe says:

    Presumably next they will want free access to what sort of music and videos we stream or download so they can psychologically profile us and prove that listening to Manson and watching horror really does turn you into a psychopathic monster… I despair of these rapidly turning into gestapo freaks – I’ve emailed my MP, Alastair Darling, several times over issues like ID cards being forced on us and insecure databases and all I ever get are bland ‘if you haven’t done anything wrong you have nothing to hide’ responses. Which is rich from a senior minister of a government that refuses to even consider holding an enquiry into how they mislead us into war – surely if they can peek at our stuff we can peek at theirs?? If they haven’t done anything wrong, surely they have nothing to fear? Oh, right…

  3. People who say “If you’ve nothing to hide, you’ve nothing to fear” should lead by example: 24/7 CCTV in every room they inhabit, streamed continually to the web. How else can we be sure they aren’t beating their partners, abusing their kids or making bombs in the kitchen?

    RN Lee: the Going Galt hysteria was rather nicely fisked here:

    http://obsidianwings.blogs.com/obsidian_wings/2009/03/going-john-galt-the-video.html

    I’m all for it, actually. Anything which makes a bunch of far-right yahoos stop their yammering and head for the hills out of pique is fine with me. America’s newly-unemployed will be happy to fill whatever positions they leave behind.