Fear of Flying

Just when you thought that the chances of being blown up in an airplane as you fly out on holiday were getting less, the governments around the world have decided that there are new threats that air travellers face. We will no longer be allowed to take our mobile phones on planes if their batteries are discharged, for fear that the battery may contain some kind of explosive. We will all be searched more thoroughly and more intrusively before we fly.

Some hold that these measures are in the interests of safety and a few hours delay at airports and the inconvenience does not matter because safety and protection is the prime overriding principle. I understand that and I do not want to be blown up when I fly, but I wonder how all these extra security measures affect our attitude to security, making government intrusion in our lives more acceptable.

The UK government is planning legislation to force mobile phone companies and internet companies to hold data about our web telephone usage for an extended period, so that it may snoop on them if it deems there to be some kind a terrorist threat as a reaction to 500 Britons now fighting in Syria who may need snooping on, if they return radicalised. It is the thin end of a very long wedge.

We have seen how governments across the world have apparently accepted that terrorism is financed by money laundering; they have according enacted strict money laundering regimes that are designed to catch not terrorists but tax evaders. I doubt that terrorism needs much money to be effective. It needs what it has right now; dedication and self-sacrifice without caring that in the course of blowing up a group of people you blow yourself up and a few dollars – chicken feed compared to what is spent on counter-terrorism.

So we are spending billions on combating terrorism when the terrorists spend a tiny fraction of that in order to attempt to wreak they havoc and destruction.

The United States will go to great lengths to prevent terrorism. It will even spy on Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, and no doubt at some stage it will claim that spying on her has made us all safer.

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