Terrorists, drug-dealers and investigative journalists

The Government’s preoccupation with surveillance of the people means that terrorists, drug dealers and investigative journalists have something in common. Charles Arthur in The Guardian points out that they will, as a rule, avoid using electronic media when communicating with their contacts.

Which means that the Government is amassing personal informaiton on various databases, and setting up numerous surveillance systems, to watch the citizens who are largely law abiding.

Which is the point made by former BT futurologist Ian Pearson when he spoke last year at City IT forum aboard the Aurora.


Database state and investigative journalism – Guardian article 13 April 2009

Ian Pearson, futurologist, says criminals will avoid surveillance technologies – which means they’ll be used on largely law-abiding people

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Probably the best method to avoid scrutiny is not to avoid e-mail but to use it in a statistically usual way. When everyone is using e-mail for all sorts of things the person who never uses it will be acting suspiciously. Indeed, it is likely that some e-mail traffic is generated simply in support of fake identities for later use. Who would do such a thing? Any group that wanted to have a 'legend' available as cover for a spy.

Toby Stevens' blog on privacy and identity issues also provides useful commentary on the issues of increasing data surveillance. See for example his comments on the DNA database.