Time was when you knew who was looking after you. In the 1970s, right up to the cusp of the 1980s when Metal Mickey, Game for A Laugh and The A-Team took over the mantle of ITV Saturday telly, we had Bodie and Doyle. This was the acceptable face of counter-insurgency: two likely lads prancing around in flared trousers, doing handbrake turns in Ford Capris, shooting stuff up and generally keeping the country safe from fanatical Baader-Meinhof-style terrorists, home-grown fruitcakes and bad eggs from overseas. In between romancing saucy blondes and cracking open cans of Light Ale, B&D managed to bend the rules to get what they wanted, placating Gordon Jackson and saving the country.
Ah, how times have changed. Now we have Spooks, or the execrable Spooks: Code 9 on BBC Three, a programme so vacuously pisspoor that it actually makes you hope that Two Pints of Lager and A Fucking Shite Script might be coming on to make it all better again. Just as David Bowie's performance in Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence had the neutrals rooting for the Japanese, Spooks's awful collection of balsawood stage-school wankers make you secretly hope that the assorted plotters, bombers and evildoers from The Abroad actually manage to achieve their goals. No such luck - we're always given a 'happy ending' of swarthy ne'er-do-wells being escorted off for a bit of extraordinary rendition and waterboarding, as if that's supposed to make us sleep more safely in our beds. Fuck that - bring back Bodie and Doyle.
Although if you're the Express, of course, the idea of a surveillance society has other ramifications. As ever, I feel guilty about holding up the Express to ridicule, but then again, they're a bunch of racist cunts who rely on racist cunts to buy their shitty excuse for a daily paper, so I should really not have too many qualms. Here we are then:
Ha ha! Free theatre ticket for every reader! Free theatre ticket for every reader?! What the fuck would Express readers want to go to the theatre for, unless it's for a BNP get-together or a Jim Davidson gig? For fuck's sake. You might as well offer a free immigrant with every copy.
Anyway, there we are. Apparently ALL calls and emails will be monitored by 'spies'. Not just MI5 or Special Branch, but 'spies'. Blimey, it's got to be serious then!
Hang on a tick though, haven't I seen the Express claiming something about ALL in a headline before? Oh yes...
Remember that? Remember that frankly batshit insane idea that every single new job created in Britain had definitely been taken up by a migrant. All? All. Oh yes, ALL. The Express even got out the precious red ink to tell you it was ALL. There was no mistaking it. The Express truly believed it was ALL. Either that or they were wilfully misleading their readers to try and advance an inherently racist and anti-immigration agenda, but I'm sure it couldn't be that, could it?
Anyway, what's the evidence this time around - is it any better? Is every single phone call, email and other communication really going to be monitored by Bodie and Doyle? Or is it a crock of dirty big jobs? Let's have a look:
ALL telephone calls, emails and text messages in Britain will be monitored under new Government snooping plans.
A £12billion identity database at the GCHQ spy centre could even log every website visited by computer users nationwide.
...keeping special attention for those visiting the Express website - file them under 'fucking worthless racist shitbags'. Except me, obviously. Think of me as 'just visiting' on the Jail square in Monopoly.
Hundreds of bugging probes will be installed in the telephone system and computer networks to monitor communications traffic.
GCHQ has already been handed £1billion of taxpayers’ cash to begin developing the database.
One poxy billion? Ha ha! The NHS IT system fucked up royally with many, many times that. You'll be lucky to be able to sort out such a huge enterprise with just a billion pounds (of hard-earned taxpayer cash while the BLACKS COME OVER HERE AND PAY NOTHING AND GET FREE HOMES, oops sorry, too much reading the Express will do that to you).
The aim is to set up a “live tap” on every electronic communication in the country. At present, security service MI5 carries out limited monitoring of email exchanges and internet use.
I'm not saying this isn't happening, but how the hell are GCHQ really going to monitor all this? Is it really possible? What will they be looking for? Will there be thousands and thousands of people sitting in a room in Cheltenham listening to me on the phone? Everyone on the phone? Every text? Every email? Really? Every website? And how will the data be harvested? And how will they be able to filter through what they want to find? Is it really possible?
The database is likely to be centred at GCHQ’s famous “doughnut”-shaped spy centre in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire.
Thank fuck the Express can tell us what shape the building is, anyway. Now we have a fighting chance of protecting our human rights.
While a final decision has yet to be taken, ministers are understood to have agreed to the move “in principle”.
Oh. Hang on then. It's not happening. I mean, it is happening, and it's gonna be evil and terrible and cost a billion pounds, but it's, er, not happening. Really, it's not quite been decided yet. And money's tight, isn't it. And a spare billion, well you might need that for something else except finding out how many times I've been on the phone this week, and which websites I've been to, or whatever.
Home Office insiders confirmed the plan was being discussed, although they disputed the reported £12billion price tag.
Oh it's 12 billion now, is it? Where did the other 11 come from then? Just chuck a billion at it now, see what happens, could be rubbish, but hey - it's only money, no?
But the plan risks provoking a clash between ministers and Information Commissioner Richard Thomas, the Whitehall watchdog on data and privacy issues. A spokesman said: “The commissioner warned that it is likely that such a scheme would be a step too far for the British way of life. Proposals that threaten such intrusion into people’s lives must be properly debated.”
And then it struck me. These things are usually waved through without a worry at all. Targeting Mosques and Islamic websites - the Express has no trouble about MI5 being able to do that. But invading the privacy of white people? Now that's a different matter, and is therefore evil and bad and wrong. No-one at the Express seems to worry about people's rights when it's brown folk being dumped in jail for 42 days or shipped off to Guantanamo - but if it's us being targeted, then all of a sudden that becomes a Very Bad Thing very quickly.
But why the big fuss all of a sudden? Who's worried about this? Look at it this way - the GCHQ monkeys with access to this enormous database if it ever exists - and let's face it, something's bound to be left on a train or nicked out of a car sooner or later - will be a wonderful source for journalists. A shame, perhaps, that there won't be many left at the Express soon, but still, the potential exists to find details of anyone's mobile phone calls, emails and websites visited... even those who work for the Express... hmm... I wonder if someone somewhere is worried about that?
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