“He also forced everyone, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead, so that no one could buy or sell unless he had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of his name” Revelation 13:16-17
Do I think that Mr Blair is the beast prophesied in the Book of Revelation? No, that honour belonged to the emperor Nero, who unleashed a violent persecution against Christians in the First Century. Mind you, if I was of a fundamentalist inclination I think I would be reading closely the text of Revelation just to see if there were any references to Downing Street or New Labour.The British Government’s latest proposal to install little black boxes into every car so that every journey can be monitored and every driver charged accordingly does, you must admit, have a certain apocalyptic feel about it. Saint John talks about no-one buying or selling unless they have the mark of the beast; the government proposal would seem to be that no-one can come and go unless they have the black box.
It seems a pretty far-reaching proposal to deal with problems in certain places. My home county is Somerset, I can honestly say that in all my visits back over the past 22 years I have never experienced gridlock. Taunton can be busy, but never so bad that anyone would want to give up their liberty to go where they want when they want without having a government agency monitoring every move.
The claim is that it is matter of traffic management, but no government will be able to resist the temptation to use the data for various purposes. If you are at point A at 7.00 and at point B at 7.10 and the distance is six miles through a 30 mph zone, well, you have been speeding. If a crime is committed at point C when you are passing down the street, well, you must be considered as a suspect. If your car regularly appears in the car park of the local pub and then moves to the home address at around 11 pm, then the local police will be waiting for you one evening. Data could have great commercial value, even being sold to divorce lawyers. ‘Mr. Smith, why did you say you were at the office when traffic records clearly show that your car was parked outside number 39 Seedy Street?’
Perhaps the data would be used for catching the guilty and the innocent need have no fear if they have nothing to hide. But how soon would it be before the security services decided that anyone who disagreed with them would automatically be guilty? How soon would it be before the environmentalists and the peace campaigners and the minority rights activists find that their every move was being recorded if they moved around by car? How soon would it be before they had no freedom come and go?
Maybe I should go back and read Revelation . . .