Imagine that you’re an authoritarian government minister and you’ve just failed to gain support for your scheme to abolish traditional liberties and acquire the power to incarcerate people who haven’t even been charged of a crime for up to six weeks. You’ve been playing the terrorist card for so long that it’s visibly dog-eared. The public is calling your bluff—they’re just not scared enough any more!
What’s worse, the ungrateful wretches don’t seem to appreciate the essential security requirement to set up a £12 billion database to track and record every phone call made, email sent, and website visited by everyone in the country.
What is an aspiring tyrant to do? Well, you might try to elevate public indignation levels by appealing to two bogeymen at once, by seeding a propaganda piece to a complicit journalist.
And you’d probably end up with something like this:
A link between terrorism plots and hardcore child pornography is becoming clear after a string of police raids in Britain and across the Continent, an investigation by The Times has discovered. Images of child abuse have been found during Scotland Yard antiterrorism swoops and in big inquiries in Italy and Spain.
Secret coded messages are being embedded into child pornographic images, and paedophile websites are being exploited as a secure way of passing information between terrorists.
What breed of cretin do they take us for?
It’s not the first time this has come up. I’m reminded of the Forest Gate incident. To recap: in June 2006, thirty-odd police officers raided a house in East London in the middle of the night to arrest two men suspected of terrorist activity. During the confusion, one of the men was accidentally shot at near-point-blank range—an accident that was blamed on the thick gloves the police were wearing. Fortunately, it wasn’t fatal. Both men were released after several days, as nothing related to terrorism had been found.
It didn’t end there, though: the shot man was arrested again, this time on child abuse charges related to images found on his computer during the raid. I thought this very fishy at the time. It just seemed too conveniently vindictive. After all, the British public hates a paedophile even more than a terrorist! And so what if the charges didn’t stick, and he was released without charge? His name had already been publicly besmirched.
I believe that a concerted effort is being made to associate paedophilia with terrorism in order to provoke and maintain a foaming level of outrage among the populace and to ensure public acquiescence in the progressive diminution of civil liberties.
Whilst chatting about this the other night, I recalled the ‘Four Horsemen of the Infocalypse’ of Cypherpunk FAQ fame. I was a little surprised that the idea wasn’t as well known or remembered as I had thought. The message is even more relevant now than it was in 1994:
8.3.4. “How will privacy and anonymity be attacked?”
like so many other “computer hacker” items, as a tool for the “Four Horsemen”: drug-dealers, money-launderers, terrorists, and pedophiles.
One part of the terrorist mythos is true: there are people out there who hate our freedom and want to destroy our way of life. Unfortunately, they appear to be in government.
They know where you travel, by car (via ANPR) or public transport (with London’s Oyster card). They want to know who you call and email, and where you go on the internet. They want to lock people up before they’ve even worked out what they’re supposed to have done. And it’s not a conspiracy theory in the classic sense: collecting and mining much of this information is the declared intention of the government.