I’ve never been a big defender of the right to privacy myself, particularly where it comes to surveillance cameras. People bemoan the amount of cameras we have in the UK that are watching our every move but the old staple argument rings true; if you’re not doing anything wrong they pose no threat to you. Not to forget that when you’re in public, people around you can see what you’re doing anyway, so where’s the reasonable expectation of privacy?
However if the UK were to bring in lip-reading cameras I’d have to say that I’d consider that a gross violation of personal privacy. Some might say “If what you’re saying isn’t wrong, then they pose no threat to you” but that misses the point. Whilst technically true, there’s still the issue of privacy to consider. My conversations are private, at least outside me and the person or persons I’m having them with. The government has no right to know my innermost thoughts and feelings on any matter, even if that means terrorists can keep their intentions to themselves. The one place where we ought to always be free from any government intervention should be our own hearts and minds.
And what about the chilling effect this could have on freedom of expression? If people worry that their very expression is being monitored, it may simply stop people expressing themselves. Given Blair’s constant opposition to political protests and attempts to curtail the right to protest, one might even think that the “terrorism” scare tactic is nothing more than a smokescreen to mask the real reasoning for it; to end political activism and opposition to the government.