In this entertaining and highly revealing account of his attempt to dodge Britain's 4.2 million CCTV cameras and other forms of surveillance, Ross Clark lays bare the astonishing amount of personal data which is hoarded by the state and by commercial organizations, and asks whom should we fear most: the government agencies who are spying on us - or the criminals who seem tIn this entertaining and highly revealing account of his attempt to dodge Britain's 4.2 million CCTV cameras and other forms of surveillance, Ross Clark lays bare the astonishing amount of personal data which is hoarded by the state and by commercial organizations, and asks whom should we fear most: the government agencies who are spying on us - or the criminals who seem to prosper in the swirling fog of excessive data-collection....
|Title||:||The Road to Big Big Brother: One Man's Struggle Against the Surveillance Society|
|Number of Pages||:||200 Pages|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
|Last checked||:||21 Minutes ago!|
The Road to Big Big Brother: One Man's Struggle Against the Surveillance Society Reviews
You know you’re in trouble when the introduction to a book warns you that our surveillance society is going to be a nightmare both Orwellian and Kafkaesque. Hyperbole is sure to follow. It’s not that Ross Clark doesn’t tackle some unsettling trends. The proliferation of CCTV cameras in the U.K. designed to watch your every move, sometimes even speaking to you when you do something wrong, is disquieting, and certainly invokes scenes from 1984. DNA databases that contain information from the general public have potential for misinterpretation and misuse, and the movement of much of our personal information, including health and financial, to the Internet also has its pitfalls.The problem is that Clark presents all of these scenarios in the most inflammatory, exaggerated way, making him seem more like a paranoid Luddite than a voice of sanity in an over-watched world. Almost none of his information is sourced in any way, making it hard to check his facts. He loses credibility with me when he moves from talking about the potentials of police misuse of our information, to fearful ranting about the grocery store:"If there is one nightmare which Orwell failed to foresee it is the voice of the health minister lecturing us for taking one helping of Frosted Flakes too many. . . .there is potentially a darker side. . . .Details of your shopping habits are used. . .to build a picture of you and your neighborhood, so that they can better target you with the type of junk mail to which they think your demographic category will respond" (p. 102-103).Ross Clark’s Room 101 apparently involves not rats or cockroaches, but junk mail. I don’t like it either, but I think he’s missing the point.With new technology of this kind, I think we need to ask three questions.1. What are we trying to accomplish with the technology?2. Does it accomplish what we want it to do?3. Assuming it does what we want, is it worth the financial cost, and more importantly, the cost in civil liberties?If it doesn’t even do what we want, as it appears much of the technology discussed in the book does not, then it certainly isn’t worth sacrificing civil liberty for. The problem really isn’t the technology itself. Governments have spied on their citizens for centuries. From Caligula to Stalin, the best dictators have been remarkably good at monitoring people’s activity for their own diabolical purposes, with or without cell phone tracking. More concerning than the method of surveillance is how the information is used. In the U.S., the framers of the Constitution made it difficult on purpose for authorities to search your house and your person. They were keenly aware that search and seizure had enormous potential for abuse. The bigger concern in modern society is the gradual chipping-away of the protections afforded by the 4th amendment with laws like the Patriot Act. Orwell’s 1984, despite the pervasive cameras, could not have happened in a setting where those protections were honored, and where a free press kept an eye on things to cry foul when necessary.*I want to thank the Bird Brian Lending Library for the opportunity to read this book. If anyone wants to read it next, let me know and I’ll send it along. You will have the added bonus of reading the snarky comments in the margins from all of the previous Goodreaders who have read it.
So here we have a book about Britain sleepwalking into the Orwellian nightmare, the Big Brother state.It's by this guy Ross Clark who is a right-wing journalist who earns his living writing for the vicious Daily Mail and the poisonous Daily Express gutter press. Sample articles : God Save us from the crazy religious privileges in jails that cost the taxpayer millionsWe Must Jail the Lowlifes Targeting Our War MemorialsThere is No Place for Sharia Law in British SocietyIn this book Ross Clark is all about CCTV, according to him it's invading every area of British life, we're spending millions on these damn things, it's a silent plague which is eating away at the very fabric of British liberty, WHEN WILL THIS MADNESS END?? At the same time, he goes on about how they don't work and all you get are unidentifiable blurs. God help you if your face looks like an unidentifiable blur! They're going to lock you up and throw away the key!No, that's not a quote, I just made it up. But it's the kind of thing Ross Clark would say if he kept on writing long enough.And that's the argument he keeps making : if this goes on all the crims will leave fake DNA all over their crime scenes and babies will be in prison for murder because by then they'll have all everybody's DNA on one vast database and mistakes will be made and the crims will know how to make fake DNA because it's on the internet. IS THAT WHAT YOU WANT? BABIES IN PRISON FOR MURDERS THEY DID NOT COMMIT?Well, no, uh, I don't… I don't think… that will… ever … happen…THAT'S WHAT THEY SAID ABOUT HITLER!Er… This book does highlight a genuine debate which is swirling away in Britain, but it does so in an extremely stupid way. Because although it was published in 2009 it all seems to be out of date. Page 6 : The Government has passed a Parliamentary Act which will soon oblige Britons to own an ID cardThis national ID scheme was scrapped entirely and the database of names destroyed by the new coalition government in early 2011.Another one : Ross is eager to visit Northampton, a drab Midlands town who had installed talking lampposts, the ones with CCTV cameras that yell at you if you are bad. (PUT THAT HALF EATEN BURGER IN THE CORRECT WASTE RECEPTACLE. ZIP UP YOUR FLIES.)Page 2 :Misbehaving in Northampton certainly sounds a scary business. The town's "cutting edge" security system has 495 CCTV cameras…Northampton is a latter day panopticon : a prison designed to fool the inmates into thinking they were being constantly watched.Maybe this is a big result for Ross or maybe this disproves his whole thesis that Britain is being progressively orwellised, but this is from the Northampton Chronicle on 27 July 2011CONTROVERSIAL talking CCTV cameras, which were introduced to Northampton town centre four years ago, have been switched off.The talking cameras were installed in May 2007 to deter vandals, trouble makers and litter louts by barking out messages such as: “Your behaviour is being monitored by CCTV. It is being recorded and the police have been called.”But the cameras were met with immediate criticism when they were put up, with some residents calling them ‘Big Brother gone mad’, and human rights campaign group, Liberty, saying they were a waste of money.In reaction to the criticism, the new leader of Northampton Borough Council, Councillor David Palethorpe (Con, Billing) put an end to the cameras yesterday, by personally switching them off.Ross comes across as just another right wing scaremongerer & so wrecks what might in other books be a reasonable debate on the way we want our societies to be. He's as confused as the rest of us – for instance as he's trying to drive 50 miles in England without being recorded on a camera he throws off an asideThe idiot who overtook me at 80 mph on a blind bend seemed to have confidence that he wasn't being watchedWhich kind of demonstrates why police think it's a good idea to have speed cameras in the first place.He's right to say that reasonable debate about what the security services and the police should be doing, how much intrusion is tolerable and all of that is hard to come by. That's because the debate is run at the level of sneery paranoid rightwingery by idiots like Ross Clark.
With Apologies to Bird BrianThis is Ross Clark:He wrote a book about Britain.It’s about how Britain is becoming a camera-riddled police state, on a crash course with Orwellian nightmares of human bondage and enslavement.No one is safe.“Trawling a database of this size for positive matches with material found at the scene of the crime would be certain to result in innocent people being jailed. You can imagine the situation. There is a murder in Berlin. DNA data is relayed to police in all EU member states. Somewhere out there, whether it be a waiter in Portugal, a sheep-herder in Greece or an oil worker in Aberdeen, there is a 50-50 chance of finding a match. In court the prosecution makes the case: ‘There is only a one in a billion chance that this information could be wrong.’ How many juries, presented with such information, would not convict?”Believe it.“No matter now ridiculous the scenarios one imagines, sooner or later they will become a reality”But Ross Clark is a person just like you and me. He titles all his chapters with “Me and [insert everyday triviality]” He takes you through the every day life of a citizen, from driving to shopping, to home life to looking up "things" on your office computer.He’s hip to the every man’s struggle. Warning, all of you outside England might not catch this reference:“Pity it doesn’t have an ‘Unintelligent Pedestrian Surveillance System,’ too, to help us understand its fares and find the right exit from Oxford Circus tube station”His writing is sharp and irreverent.“US Department of Homeland Security puts two and two together and gets five.”Oh no he did ‘int!This isn’t just for the men though. Ross Clark has a few ‘other’ intentions, if you catch my drift.Ladies, don’t worry too much about the paranoia and his occasional rants a few voices away from schizophrenia. It’s just his irresistible charm that’s bound to grow on you. It’s shocking and provocative:“I have come to the conclusion that there is only one way to use a computer: assume at all times that there is a policeman peering over one shoulder and a criminal peering over the other.”Oh, what’s he doing on his computer? Probably something naughty. Listen up girls, he might be single, but even if not, he’s not going to let any arbitrary social constructions stand in his way.“If the time comes when we are treated like groceries in a supermarket distribution center, that’s it. I will be going underground, or rather taking to the hills and forests where I will hunt, scavenge—and officially cease to exist. I may even see you there.”You know what that means. Yes, just you, him, and a bottle of Pinot Noir under all those stars. A Real Review?I tend to struggle with certain aspects of non-fiction books. This is mostly when it comes down to relying upon the author to be presenting the facts in a truthful and academically-rigorous way. I’ve been so much more exposed to reasons why facts could be inaccurate than the ways in which they could reliable, that I’ve developed this ardent skeptic in me who questions just about every claim made in any non-fiction book I read. It’s probably why I’ve chalked up all serious problems to experts who actually do the hard work of research, studies and surveys (which are all subject to fallibility and large margins of error), while withholding commitment to positions that require reliance on "serious studies" and this or that event. Because every step of the way in which we arrive at certainty about data on a large scale is beset with a glut of serious problems (reliability of the people and events in question, testimony is insufficient evidence, the method by which data is collected is necessarily a representation of what actually happened, the interpretation of those events, the representation and bias of the author synthesizing all this data). It strikes me as so difficult for the layman to accurately assess the truth of matters without having to rely upon some authority. For a layman to actually believe and defend claims made in any book of argumentative non-fiction, political or otherwise, s/he seems by necessity to rely upon argument from authority. If you are not directly involved in the field of study in question, there must be some type of acceptance of a mediator.I have always struggled accepting the mediator as complete authority, sorting through whether or not this or that thing is true. Because any assessment I make will be based upon my own intuitions about the topic. My intuitions can most certainly be false. I have not done the hard work of researching all sides of these issues. If the things that Ross Clark says, and his subsequent conclusions, are really the case, and are really the truth, then it doesn’t matter at all how humorous and absurd I find them to be. No matter how many snarky notes I left with the other goodreaders who’ve read this copy, if he’s right, he’s right. Everything else is noise. But still, lines like this don’t help:“I would not be at all surprised if tomorrow we did not end up with a National Tax-Dodgers’ Register, a National Speeders’ Register and a National Litter-Droppers’ Register—forcing almost all of us, for one reason or another, to declare our movements to the police”“Myspace, and its rival Facebook, is essentially a forum for drunken college students who cannot conceive that any harm could ever come from disporting themselves in semi-naked poses for all the world to see. This is the generation for whom ‘Big Brother’ is synonymous not with George Orwell’s 1984 but with the British television program of that name.”My reluctance with this type of material is probably why I retreat behind literature and lofty philosophical arguments so often. Because they are things that I actually can have a conversation about. In the realm of interpretation, extrapolations and logical arguments, the tools of analysis and deconstruction seem quite at hand. Even if a person knows nothing about what the argument refers to, s/he can still analyze the logic of the argument. But anything requiring hard facts and data seems so basic. Is it true or not? Ross cites multiple examples of events in history that support his overall argument. This type of non-fiction seems pretty cut and dry. If it’s true that governments are bent on knowing everything about us and those actions are harmful to individuals and society, then it’s true that it’s a bad thing and it shouldn’t happen. Establishing those two things are tough, though. I’m not in any way qualified to make judgements about the former. I have done no research on the subject and I do not understand the complexities of government agencies and their inner-workings. I would consider myself, as a person with strong opinions who is prone to over-analysis, to be somewhat qualified to talk about the latter but again, if there’s a truth to be had out there, namely that a panoptic Big Brother state is extremely harmful to individuals, then that’s the case. I want to be more informed about the world and play an active role in improving society, but hey, I’m 20 years old and I have 20 year old things to worry about. Like if that girl I just like went on a date with, you know like, actually like, like likes me and not just likes me, you know? and who can buy me a handle of the Captain for this weekend’s party??????????? friend’s parents are gone for a few days, it's gonna be a rager!!!!! lolz :P
A little background: I got this book in the mail from Paul, who in turn got it from Bird Brian. If anyone wants to read this particular copy, I will certainly post it to him or her. It's got marginalia from all three of us, although I have to admit it sort of peters out about halfway through, as Paul and I got more stupefied, and as...well, I don't really know what was going on with Bird Brian, although I think his review was a good deal more intelligent than the book itself. So here are the previous reviews:Bird Brian's: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/...Paul's: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/...And, again...please take this book off my hands, if only so you too can participate in its gradual evisceration.I think Bird Brian gave Clark a little too much credit as a professional author, which Clark (it turns out) only barely is. Also, he looks like a cross between Vladimir Putin and Dave Chappelle in whiteface makeup, which shouldn't have made it harder for me to take him seriously, but it did. Anyway, he's a British tabloid writer, and has somehow managed to publish this little anti-surveillance screed. The big problem with it turns out to be that he just doesn't know what he's on about. He vacillates - oscillates, even - between what Paul calls "gonzo alarmism" and a sort of anti-climactic "it's not that bad after all" attitude. He imagines a dystopian world, complete with talking cameras watching your every move, and then says, "Well, I couldn't actually get the cameras to talk to me." So what exactly am I supposed to be worried about? Okay, no, that's not the big problem. Ridiculous tabloidy lines like this are: "Do you ban someone from working on tills because his habit of telling lies as a child fits a pattern that suggests he will grow up to be a fraudster? Well, yes, actually. It is an uncomfortable reality that no matter how ridiculous the scenarios one imagines, sooner or later they will become reality."What now? What kind of reality, exactly, is Ross Clark living in? I'm confident that I can imagine scenarios more ridiculous and terrifying than anything that's the present case in the UK.Wait, no, there's an even bigger problem. What has Clark done to earn my trust? As a tabloid writer with no chops and not much of a reputation in America (as far as I know), a whole lot of nothing. Which means he should be citing his sources. And he's made fact checking pretty difficult for me by not doing so. Not that I'm going to try and fact-check him, because I don't feel it's particularly worth my time. But is he even under any obligation to print the truth? I guess there's the possibility of libel suits, but I don't know that those catch half-truths and exaggerations that well. How can I believe him when he makes statements like the one about house-arrest prisoners just cutting off their RFID bracelets and fleeing? It's possible, but that can't be the whole story, can it?I don't know. I thought maybe I'd learn something from this book, but all I learned was to try to avoid reading books like it.
This is an excellent look at how much information, Governments, Local Authorities and other orgnisations collect about you. And how much good it does them
An interesting book though slightly out of date.