If you’ve seen The Lives of Others, the Oscar-winning movie set in Communist East Germany, you’ll know how constrictive and oppressive it was living in a surveillance state where the authorities monitored your every move.
But hey, why watch the film when you can live it for real in Britain.
Here’s a tweet that gives a snapshot of where we’re at:
Just been at a hate crime event with the Met police + they told me something really useful.
If you’re on a bus + you witness a hate crime, if you give the police the number on the back of your Oyster/debit card, they can trace the bus + every passenger on it to find the culprit.
— Patrick Strudwick (@PatrickStrud) May 24, 2018
For me, the sinister part here is not that the police have the ability to track you down via the information on your Oyster card. [Though actually they don’t. Not if your Oyster card isn’t registered. And it’s the least law-abiding who are, it seems likely, the ones who are least likely to bother]. It’s the fact that the thing that really rocks their boat about these extraordinary Stasi-like powers they have is not that they can use them to track down terrorists or knife gangs or acid throwing thugs – but that they can use it to prosecute “hate crimes.”
Hate crimes, let us never forget, are a concept which really should have no life out of totalitarian states or a George Orwell novel.
They’re a grotesque throwback to the Tony Blair era and should have been binned years ago – for obvious reasons – by subsequent Conservative administrations.
Yet here we are, with the Metropolitan Police still so very keen on the idea that they actually hold “hate crime events” to stress how important they think they are.
If this is “policing with consent” then I’m a banana.