Speak Up or Stay Quiet

Complete and all encompassing censorship. It’s what every culture should fear, and if they don’t then they should.

It’s also a particularly apt point of discussion given that the proposed Investigatory Powers Bill in the UK has attracted a lot of attention recently. If accepted, details of one’s internet history could be stored for up to a year, unlike now warrants will not have to be obtained for security services to access this information either. Whilst this bill is proposed as a security measure to make Britain safer, and in some cases assist in missing person reports and other crimes, it has the potential to be misused, data to be hacked (take the latest talktalk scandal for example), and personal privacy to come under threat.

The future envisioned by Orwell in 1984 seems to grow ever closer – surveillance has become the norm. But should it be? – Certainly the participants of Hunted think not!

Now, that is not to say that surveillance doesn’t have its uses. However, as extreme as it may sound, the ever-increasing involvement of the State in our personal affairs is unsettling, and nudging us closer to a police state. It is sometimes easy to forget that we are in an incredibly privileged position unlike those in China, or North Korea – it is because of this that we have to ask ourselves what our privacy means to us, and whether we are willing to sacrifice it?…

We have already laid the foundations for self-censorship – labels can sometimes be thrown around at the drop of a hat, prohibiting some people from speaking out about certain issues. Similarly, comedy which has always been on the front-line of breaking down political taboos, as well as socio-economic issues, has faced intense scrutiny over the last few years as the media and the public grapple with “how far is too far?”

We are in danger of feeling unable to speak up, and serious important conversations being stifled. Roger Scruton, in an article entitled why people shouldn’t feel the need to censor themselves, argues that this self-enforced censorship can be as restrictive and damaging as Government enforced censorship. After all isn’t it a lack of communication and informed knowledge that leads to ignorance?

The choice is clear: we can either speak up and fight for our privacy and freedoms, or we can while away our privileged position until it no longer exists…

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