Every phone call. Every email. Every text message. Every web site visited. I land at Heathrow and discover that Big Brother in England will be recording it all: the entire electronic career of every private citizen will salted away for a year in a gigantic database and “available for monitoring by government bodies.” Six-hundred and fifty-three government bodies, to be precise, including the police and local council authorities. They will not need a warrant from a judge but only the authorisation of a “senior” police officer or equivalent of a deputy head of department at a local authority to rifle through who you’ve talked to when about what. This is more or less the equivalent of a hall pass in your local high school. Adding insult to injury, the British taxpayers are going to be forced to fork over some £2 billion to spy on themselves. According to the London Daily Telegraph, the “Intercept Modernisation Programme,” as this hideous assault on freedom is officially denominated, will allow any public authority to see the internet addresses, dates, times, and recipients of calls made by every citizen in the kingdom. Only 29 percent of the British people are in favor of this preposterous scheme. But the Home Office insists that it will push it through anyway. In this post-democratic era, what does the will of the people mean when put up against the inclinations of political bureaucrats?
Britain, once the cradle of political liberty, is now leading the world in capitulating to the the soft-totalitarian forces that would gobble up freedom for the sake of central control. I have been quoting this observation of David Hume frequently of late: seldom is freedom lost all at once. Here in England we have another example of how it oozes away. Sad. Expensive. And frightening.