Saturday, 3 March 2007

5:4 Collect omplete files on everybody.

Again you start rather behind the game and need some swift action to catch up. Through a quirk of history, your people have had the notion that individuals have a private life which should be protected from the State. This idea may be tolerable in times of peace, but not in war. Nor will it do in your complex world. So you need to follow the example of enlightened nations which have introduced serious surveillance.

Fortunately you can soon catch up and surpass even the most efficient of previous regimes in this respect because of the wonderful onward march of technology. Think how crude was the portrait of ‘Big Brother’ in Orwell’s subversive novel. You can do MUCH better than that. In this brief sketch of what is possible, let us just mention two obvious ways in which you should go.

The first is proper surveillance. Orwell could only imagine a simple device on the walls which could not be switched off, but people could go out into the streets, or fields, or even their toilets, and be free of surveillance. You now have two wonderful new tools which can extend this. One is closed-circuit television, which you have already deployed in a huge way through many of your cities. But this only really deals with public space which, along with enhanced satellite tracking, can be surveyed down to every hedge and path. But what about other parts of people’s homes, and their secret conversations when lost in a crowd?

In the old days there was phone tapping and some primitive forms of bugging, and both these should be made routine in relation to all your subjects. To this can be added what you are already setting up, the routine monitoring of all e-mails and all activity on the web. So any messages that go in and out of the house, and all phone messages whether on stationary or mobiles are easy to track now. You are building sophisticated information retrieval systems which will sift through the vast archive to look for any suspect patterns of un-friendly activities. With these new methods you should pick up most dissidence or suspect activity very early on. This is much easier to do now with electronic communications; it was practically impossible to monitor letters, but e-mails and phones are easy. These can be brought to bear in the secret trials you will be conducting, and only your own experts will know how properly to decode them and tease out their meaning. The accused and their lawyers will not be able to challenge them.

Yet that still leaves the problem of people just moving about, breathing, talking in remote spots, looking at things. Until now it has been difficult to monitor this public, remote, space. You can pick up their cars if they drive about, you can see them with satellite images. But if they walk about and talk quietly, particularly in the midst of a crowd of others, how can you catch their potentially subversive plotting?

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