Roddy Graham's Blog: 5 November 2008 - USA today, UK tomorrow
05 November 2008
Roddy Graham is chairman of the ICFM and commercial director of Leasedrive Velo
Great news from America today - they've elected their first black President. We'll have to see what happens under Obama but he couldn't do a worse job than Bush.
Many consider the Republican Party has moved the USA toward becoming a fascist state. Freedom of the individual, enshrined in their Bill of Rights and in democracies around the world, has been thrown out of the window. Just look at what is still happening at Guantanamo Bay, which has drawn international outcry. And I won't even start going over old ground when it comes to the Bush's administration track record on the environment. I doubt anyone has become a more reviled freely-elected leader still leading a 'democracy'. Roll on January 20, 2009.
If you have any concerns over the move toward a fascist state in the USA, then don't think the same could not happen over here. 'Big Brother' is a definite reality, as evidenced by more CCTV cameras per head of the population than any other country.
Bad news from the UK today - black boxes are all the rage. First, and in many ways more troubling, comes news that the Government is planning on introducing internet black boxes to collect data on every telephone call, e-mail and website visit made in this country. If that isn't Big Brother on a massive scale, I don't know what is!
Apparently, the black box technology will automatically store and retain raw data before transferring it to a giant central database controlled by the Government. The thought makes your hair stand on end! The whole thing comes under the title of the Interception Modernisation Programme (IMP). Nothing impish about the project idea, I can assure you.
Second, and equally concerning from a fleet perspective, is the trialling of black boxes for road charging. Next year, four different organisations (BT and Trafficmaster among them) are to undertake road charging trials on behalf of Government in a £4m annual project being funded by the Department for Transport DfT). Those drivers undergoing the trials will have their vehicles fitted with black boxes, their journeys monitored and phantom accounts charged accordingly. The £1.30 charge per mile could be just around the corner.
The bad news from the UK is worrying on several counts. Government says it will enter into public consultation on the first count - the Communications Data Bill. Well, if you don't want every single action, every single keystroke monitored then get on to your MP right now! Big Brother is upon us and apart from all the issues associated with loss of individual freedom comes the inevitable question of government's atrocious record when it comes to loss of personal data. Let the spooks do their jobs, but not at the expense of the freedom of the individual, a sacrosanct right enshrined in every democratic constitution.
Government also assured us that it had abandoned the idea of road charging as unworkable. Now it has done a 'U-turn' and is embarking on road trails. As mentioned in numerous previous blogs, the Government track record on technology guarantees a monumental breakdown and inevitable traffic jam of complaints. Apparently, Government says it will monitor individual road journeys but will not record actual destination routes so as not to impinge on individual freedom. Oh yeah!
The planned vision is that every motorist will check their road charging account on the internet to see their monthly bill. So what happens to those who do not have internet access, or who are not conversant with its workings? What happens when you get a charge on your bill, which you don't recognise? I'm sure that when you call up and state that you did not make that trip from Milton Keynes to Edinburgh on March 16 some DfT employee will point out that you drove out of Central Boulevard at 06.16 and arrived in Edinburgh at 11.02 and, by the way, your average speed was above the legal limit for the route taken so not only do you indeed owe £156.27 but here's a £60 automatic fine and three penalty points.
George Orwell was nearer the mark than we ever thought possible when he wrote 1984. Just a few decades out!