The British government seems to have a fetish for mass surveillance. Today it has announced plans to use satellite tracking of all motor vehicles as a means of road pricing:
Drivers could pay up to £1.34 a mile in “pay-as-you go” road charges under new government plans.
The transport secretary said the charges, aimed at cutting congestion, would replace road tax and petrol duty.
Alistair Darling said change was needed if the UK was to avoid the possibility of “LA-style gridlock” within 20 years.
Every vehicle would have a black box to allow a satellite system to track their journey, with prices starting from as little as 2p per mile in rural areas.
These plans have been in the offing for some time mind you. But it is in line with other proposals they’ve had that involve mass surveillance of everyone’s activities:
- Their identity cards bill would involve recording all checks of people’s identity in a centralised database thus enabling mass surveillance of people’s activities — opening bank accounts, accessing government services and registering with doctors would all (eventually) require identity checks and the information about who checks and when would be stored in the database.
- They want communications providers, e.g. phone/internet companies to store all “communications data” for a year or more. Compulsory retention of this data for 12-24 months is also being pushed at EU level. This is data about who you phone/email, what websites you visit, who visits your site, who phones emails you and even the location of your mobile phone.
- They have backed the use of automated number plate recognition to track those who visit petrol station forecourts as a means of preventing people from driving off without paying.
Note that all this surveillance will be directed at the population as a whole, not merely those who the govt suspects of wrong doing.