Big Brother is Watching You (And Other Observations)

Big Brother is Watching You. Or at least, he soon will be. Here in the UK, Her Majesty’s Government has passed into law the Investigatory Powers Bill, otherwise known as the ‘Snooper’s Charter.’ It represents the largest expansion of surveillance powers in Western Europe, and according to Edward Snowden, it “It goes farther than many autocracies.”

The UK has just legalized the most extreme surveillance in the history of western democracy. It goes farther than many autocracies.
— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) November 17, 2016

So what does this mean? For UK nationals:

• Security services will be able to hack into any device you own: laptops, phones, tablets, servers, and more. • They can also retrieve your web browsing history, which means ISPs have to store this information for 12 months.

• Access to your ‘Bulk Personal Dataset,’ including information from databases containing your passenger details from flights, NHS databases, and even sporting event attendance.

There’s a fuller list here. It’s quite appalling. And that doesn’t even cover what the security forces are allowed to do overseas.

But still, what could possibly go wrong?

Of course, many will trot out the old argument: you’ve got nothing to worry about unless you’re up to no good. Except, once these precedents are set, they tend to run and run. If I stretch my powers of imagination — and I really do mean stretch — I can imagine this government has its fair reasons for this bill. But the current government is tearing itself apart. Over Brexit. Over Trump. Internecine strife always leads to disintegration and change. Who knows precisely what ‘post-truth’ totalitarianism is around the corner?

Who would deny we live in unstable times?

George Orwell was a prophet

Were he alive today, no doubt Orwell would have plenty to say about these developments. In fact, the new UN privacy chief, Joseph Cannataci, has described the law as worse than anything George Orwell could have foreseen. I’m not sure about that; Orwell predicted that technology would be used to control the masses.

For example, his telescreens, from 1984, were both televisions and security cameras. But, to be fair to Cannataci, in 1984 at least you could escape into the countryside. Not so in 2016. Here in the UK, there are CCTV cameras just about everywhere.

Many people today are mistrustful of governments. We know we are being lied to. We know our interests are well down the pecking order. Cannataci described British surveillance oversight as being “a joke”. If the levers of power fall into the wrong hands, it’ll be no laughing matter.

Paranoid? Sure, but are we paranoid enough?

Pay your dues, serf!

Speaking of governments and their contempt for the masses. Here in the UK, we pay annual fiscal tribute to a group of incredibly rich Germans — the Saxe-Coburg family (or ‘The Windsors’ as they become known after their World War 1 rebrand). The British Monarchy currently holds around £20 billion in assets, and although the Queen personally is ‘only’ worth about £277 million, that is still a lot of dough.

Now, fine, there are rich people in the world and I can deal with that. Except, the British tax payer has just been told to fund an extra £370 million refurb job on Buckingham Palace. After eight years of so-called ‘AUSTERITY’, where old folk freeze to death in their homes, and where schools, hospitals, and essential public services all feel the strain, this seems a bit much.

It makes you wonder what kind of mass hypnosis we’ve been subject to. In which world is this defensible?

I’m not alone in this thinking. Recently, a petition — now signed by a good 100,000 people — sprang up, asking the royals to fund their own refurbishment project. 100,000 is a good number, granted. But something like a million people will vote in this year’s X-Factor final, so let’s not get too carried away. Most people don’t seem to think too much about these things.

Which is perhaps why I’m writing in relative obscurity!

David Icke is a nutter — but is he wrong?

Staying on the topic of pan-dimensional lizard beings (!), David Icke released a new video blog last week. In it, he discusses the excellent, terrible movie They Live. He begins by quoting Rowdy Roddy Piper’s assertion that They Live was a documentary.

They Live is a documentary!
— Rowdy Roddy Piper (@R_Roddy_Piper) June 27, 2015

To Icke, the aliens in They Live are the lizard bloodlines he often refers to. He believes these non-human entities control all of the various power structures in the world. We might think that the various sides — The Chinese, The Americans, The Russians, etc — are at odds, but Icke believes They are just playing a game — that They control both sides.

So why don’t we see these alien-lizard beings? Icke asserts that a ‘blocking frequency’ stops us seeing what is really going on — that the non-human exists beyond their human disguises. In these crazy days, where inexplicable event follows inexplicable event, maybe he has a point.

Or maybe we’re just a terrible species. Who knows?

They Live, We Sleep

They Live is an amazing film of course, despite being generally ridiculous. Here’s philosopher and psychoanalyst Slavoj Žižek:

They Live is definitely one of the forgotten masterpieces of the Hollywood Left. … The sunglasses function like a critique of ideology. They allow you to see the real message beneath all the propaganda, glitz, posters and so on. … When you put the sunglasses on you see the dictatorship in democracy, the invisible order which sustains your apparent freedom.

Whether it’s ideology or reality, give They Live a watch. Who knows, it might just make you as paranoid as me! And when we’re all finally stamped with bar codes and sent to MEGAPRISON-1, at least you’ll know how it all started!

A request

Thoughts? Questions? Criticisms? Recommendations? If you have anything to add, please submit your comment below. It’d be great to hear from you.

You might also enjoy this post, on ‘speculative fiction’:

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Until next time,


Originally published at on November 21, 2016.