Un Privacy Chief Describes Uk Surveillance Culture As ‘Worse Than 1984’


So it turns out Big Brother is watching you. According to Joseph Cannataci, the newly appointed UN special rapporteur on privacy, the British government's long love affair with snooping on it's citizens has led to a massive deteroration in our rights to privacy. So much so that Cannataci describes the UK of today as 'worse' than the world imagined by George Orwell in 1984. Talking to the Guardian, Cannataci was fairly explicit;

“If you look at CCTV alone, at least Winston [Winston Smith in Orwell’s novel 1984] was able to go out in the countryside and go under a tree and expect there wouldn’t be any screen, as it was called. Whereas today there are many parts of the English countryside where there are more cameras than George Orwell could ever have imagined. So the situation in some cases is far worse already.

“The way we handle it is going to be the difference. But Orwell foresaw a technology that was controlling. In our case we are looking at a technology that is ever-developing, and ever-developing possibly more sinister capabilities.” 

Cannataci is pushing for the international adoption of conventions to safeguard data and combat the threat of massive clandestine digital surveillance, comparing the potential of any new agreements to the Geneva convention's success in curtailing the use of chemical weapons. He has also stated that he doesn't use Facebook or Twitter and said it was "regrettable that vast numbers of people sign away their digital rights without thinking about it."

Rats. That's us.

As the Guardian concludes; 

"Cannataci, who works between his offices in Malta and the Netherlands, has set his sights on challenging the business model of companies that are “very often taking the data that you never even knew they were taking. This is one thing that is certainly going to come up in my mandate, which is the business model that large corporations are using,” he said.

We have a number of corporations that have set up a business model that is bringing in hundreds of thousands of millions of euros and dollars every year and they didn’t ask anybody’s permission. They didn’t go out and say: ‘Oh, we’d like to have a licensing law.’ No, they just went out and created a model where people’s data has become the new currency. And unfortunately, the vast bulk of people sign their rights away without knowing or thinking too much about it.”