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Britain's Surveillance Society Slides Towards Stasi-Style Snooping

Author: Jonty Skrufff
Saturday, August 21, 2004
Top Government aide Richard Thomas warned in September that Britain is on the slippery slope to becoming a Big Brother state, facing a' growing danger of East German Stasi-style snooping.'

The Information Minister singled out government plans for a national database of every child and compulsory ID cards as particular reasons for alarm, telling the Times 'I don't think people have woken up to what lies behind this."

His concerns echoed those expressed in the Observer last month, which warned that 'the combination of new technology and the indifference of New Labour to individual freedom means that a version of the Big Brother phenomenon is being invented before our eyes.'

While The Observer singled out Labour, far right Conservative politician William Hague indicated his own party would be even more intolerant of 'individual freedoms' if elected in the future in his weekly column in the News Of The World.

"In matters of law and order, it's only when civil liberties groups start squealing that you know you're getting somewhere," the former Conservative leader sneered.

According to the Standard, surveillance is so extensive that the average Londoner is caught on camera at least 300 times a day, reflecting the childhood experiences of superstar DJ Paul Van Dyk, who was monitored by the Stasi as a teenager growing up in East Berlin.

"As a kid it was like playing cat and mouse, it had a fun element to it as well, especially as a kid, because you didn't understand the whole picture of what was going on," Paul told Skrufff earlier this year.

"My Mum quite often pointed things out, for example, there was an apartment across the street from us that had this weird mirror set up by their window where they could see who was going in and out of our door. Stuff like that went on all the time," he said.

As well as being spied on by neighbours, Paul and his mother were frequently interrogated, after the authorities learned they wished to escape to the West.

"We had to go randomly to the Ministry of Internal Affairs which was the official constitutional headquarters of the Stasi- the secret service," he recalled.

"We were questioned regularly- why did we want to leave the country- Who were our friends inside the country and outside the country-' All that kind of stuff. That happened randomly though regularly," said Paul.