@Graham Cobb - Re: UK ministers to push anti-encryption laws after election.
"When I was child, younger than the innocent victims here, I used to be very scared of an imminent nuclear attack from the USSR. My parents didn't tell me not to worry, they explained why we had to stand up against the threat: to protect the same freedoms that they had stood up for in WW2."
I can only concur with you completely. I also grew up in that Cold War era and your experience is identical to mine.
I am terribly scared of the continuing march towards authoritarianism by so-called Western democratic governments. A few years ago, the trend was just alarming but now it has become very frightening—and like the frog in the ever-warming water—most of the population seem not to be aware of its implications nor what is ultimately at stake—a fact of which opportunistic governments have taken ruthless advantage.
Moreover, these disingenuous governments have never put forward truly substantive evidence or reasons for their increasingly authoritarian actions—instead they hide truth and facts behind walls of secrecy; nor have they ever engaged in any proper discourse with the public over these issues—the most they can muster is FUD, Fear Uncertainty and Doubt, and opportunistic pronouncements (as here, as a consequence of the terrible Manchester tragedy).
Whilst the present zeitgeist and today's politics are different, the effective undercurrent of what is now happening is not very different to what happened in Germany in 1933 or in the latter Cold War East German Stasi era.
To date, governments have not yet needed to resort to jackboots in the streets as they did in Germany some 80 years ago; instead, they've now adopted more sophisticated PR and psychological tactics to gain control over the citizenry. And if or when these methods fail they then act unilaterally, as they know the citizenry won't react as it's essentially in a state of somnolence and passivity. The widespread use of mass surveillance, ever-increasing online censorship and the moves towards the banning of encryption by governments is essentially not that different to what happened in the Nazi book-burning era—in the end it amounts to the same thing, that of smothering freedoms through intimidation. Seems we've forgotten "the price of liberty is eternal vigilance".
People, even if still allowed, have or are becoming frightened to access various forms of online information for fear of being 'marked' or put on some secret government list about which they've no right of reply or ability to question—these are the very essence of the tactics used by the Abwehr, Gestapo, Stasi and KGB to control the population. As it is, I'm now forever mindful about what I do online and I find myself self-censoring searches that most people would have considered completely innocuous a decade ago.
In this new political climate if trends continue as they have been doing over the past decade, then I would not be surprised to see books that were part of the curriculum at my university, which I once had to study, such as Thoreau's Civil Disobedience and Rousseau's Social Contract, etc. being banned from the internet, as they're now deemed too subversive for citizens to access freely without being monitored by The State.
If we were able bring WWII veterans back to witness what is happening nowadays then they would be utterly appalled to see the very ethics, moral values and freedoms they fought and died for being subverted and just cast aside by unscrupulous and morally corrupt governments for effectively no other reason than for them to gain even more power.
This is a terrible state of affairs.