Database state

The government’s fascination with the use of data pre-dates Tony Blair’s arrival in Downing Street. Indeed, its quest for streamlined, efficient government has far outweighed any countervailing arguments for liberty or privacy. Indeed, dazzled by technological revolution, ministers have seen the claims of liberty and privacy as hopelessly outdated and barriers to good government. As Blair said of ID cards and the challenges of global terrorism and anti-social behaviour:

For me, this is not an issue of liberty but of modernity.

And for his successors, modernity always trumps and inconvenient and complex subjects such as liberty. Of course they are, as they assure us, fans of liberty and so on. But to encourage worthwhile debate or measure their policies against it … forget about it.

Most worrying, faith in government by database has also, as Jenni Russell argues, become a substitute for real reforms. 

If you want to see how much the state has on you, check out this excellent website.


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