Letter from London: Brits fear Facebook friends are really bombers

Mon Mar 30 03:10:26 UTC 2009

There's a new post on the Web of Language:

Letter from London: Brits fear Facebook friends are really bombers

The British Government thinks some of your Facebook friends and  
friends of friends may actually be terrorists, so it wants to monitor  
the nation's 27 million Facebook, MySpace, and Bebo users to prevent  
further attacks like the London tube and bus bombings of July 7, 2005,  
and Guy Fawkes' earlier bombing of Parliament, in 1605 ("Now 'Big  
Brother' targets Facebook," The Independent, 25 March, 2009, pp. 1-2).

Britons are used to being watched. After decades of IRA violence, her  
Majesty's crime fighters set up thousands of closed-circuit TV cameras  
to monitor the behavior of ordinary British citizens as they go about  
their daily chores. After 07/07, the government also began to compile  
a massive DNA database of UK residents, and it supports a European  
Union plan to record all email and internet activity in the 27 member  

But Prime Minister Gordon Brown's new proposal to have the government  
friend your friends outdoes the slavish imitation of the Bush-Cheney  
war on civil liberties of his predecessor, Tony Blair. Facebook has  
already been accused in Parliament of causing autism, hyperactivity,  
cancer, and even death. Now Home Office Minister Vernon Coaker wants  
to revise the government's "intercept modernisation programme" –  
that's newspeak for more spying – to force social networking sites to  
turn over information on their users' friends networks. Opposition  
Liberal Democrats are charging that the government's revision of the  
Post Office "I Spy" Bill is one more terrifying, costly, and extremely  
leaky example of the big brotherism that has become rampant in this  
country since the July 7 bombings.

Find out more. Read the rest of this post on the Web of Language:  http://illinois.edu/goto/weboflanguage

Dennis Baron
Professor of English and Linguistics
Department of English
University of Illinois
608 S. Wright St.
Urbana, IL 61801

office: 217-244-0568
fax: 217-333-4321


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