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The Road to Big Brother

Cover of  by Ross Clark

Praise for the US Edition:

So many times the obvious contradictions that surround us go unnoticed. In our high-tech society, one such contradiction is the apparent acceptance by the general public in the increasingly pervasive use of electronic surveillance to examine their every action. Author Ross Clark, in his book The Road To Big Brother - One Man's Struggle Against the Surveillance Society, ponders this willingness of the public to be spied upon and concludes that so few apparently are aware of just how extensive the data collection is. As a result, Clark ends up taking us on a journey in a somewhat sarcastic manner to observe such spying. From the talking lamp post to the inability to move around Britain via automobile without having your picture taken, Big Brother is everywhere. But who's really watching and what happens to all that collected data? The real contradiction ends up being the rather uselessness of the surveillance exercise itself.

This 130 page manuscript provides a rather intriguing look into just how much electronic data gathering occurs. While the book centers primarily on surveillance in England, some examples are United States specific. Independent of where it occurs, Clark keeps asking why and what for. His pointed question regarding the real value of such excessive data collection rings true when you consider that the more data collected simply means the more errors present within that data set. And how might this error laden data be used - to deny one of a job or credit or even worse? Throughout the book, Clark drives home the reoccurring themes that the more data collected, the more useless the data and that irregardless of its usefulness, the authorities cannot hide their apparent zeal to collect more. Somewhere lost in that zeal is the continued debasement of your civil liberties.

All in all, The Road to Big Brother is an interesting and thought provoking read on the subject of surveillance in our societies - a practice that has become quite fashionable and pervasive despite the questionable benefits obtained. It's 1984 in the 21st century and one mans attempt to ask us why? Why should we allow this and what benefit does it really provide?

Personally I found the book quite interesting yet frustrating - frustrating because it reminds me even more that, despite the guarantees of the Bill of Rights that no person should be deprived of life, liberty, or property without the due process of law, we see those rights continually encroached almost daily by a government intent on monitoring our every move. For that reason, I thank Clark for doing his part to raise the awareness in both Britain and now the United States.

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