UN Expert Calls UK Surveillance “Worse Than 1984”
Ashley Allen / 5 years ago
The new Special Rapporteur on Privacy for the United Nations, Joseph Cannataci, has branded the UK surveillance state “a rather bad joke at its citizen’s expense” that is “worse” than the dystopian vision of the future from George Orwell’s 1984. An obvious point of reference, to the point of cliché, but still sadly apposite.
“At least Winston [from Orwell’s 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,” Cannataci lamented. “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.”
Cannataci’s fear extends beyond an invasion of privacy, complaining that the commercialisation of user data is just as insidious as state surveillance. “They just went out and created a model where people’s data has become the new currency,” he said. “And unfortunately, the vast bulk of people sign their rights away without knowing or thinking too much about it,” Cannataci told The Guardian.
The UN’s new privacy chief believes the only way to tackle flagrant invasion of privacy is with a Geneva convention-style law to protect against unwarranted digital surveillance, and keep both governments and corporations in line.
“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,” he said.
Thank you The Guardian for providing us with this information.