The latest "Climate of Fear" 5 week "counter-terrorism"advertising campaign in newspapers and on local radio, is being inflicted on the public in London, Manchester. West Midlands and West Yorkshire i.e. all the major urban city areas in England.
Can it really be just a coincidence that this vague, "War on Tourism" / "War on Journalism" and "Snoop on Your Neighbours" propaganda will have peaked, in terms of mass media coverage, just before the votes in the House of Commons on the controversial Counter-Terrorism Bill 2008 ? Why exactly could this counter productive propaganda campaign not wait until after the passage of the legislation through Parliament ?
This latest campaign is even less specific than the previous one, (see "Trust your instincts" anti-terrorism propaganda - who is NOT under suspicion of terrorism ?) but it still targets perfectly innocent activities like taking photographs or video images as a tourist, or just as an amateur or professional photographer.
Thousands of people take photos every day.
What if one of them seems odd ?
Terrorists use surveillance to help plan attacks, taking photos and making notes about security measures like the location of CCTV cameras. If you see someone doing that we need to know.Let experienced officers decide what action to take.
If "one of them seems odd" and is reported as suspicious, it is almost certain that this will be a false alarm or a hoax, or a deliberate malicious false denunciation or "hate crime", and may lead to harassment, or worse, of an innocent person.
The implication that keeping CCTV camera locations secret. somehow increases national security, is utter nonsense - how can they have a deterrent effect if they are covert ?
In the extraordinarily unlikely event that a terrorist reconnaissance mission is conducted so blatantly and amateurishly that passers by actually notice it, then ringing the Anti-Terrorism Hotline / answering machine is not the correct procedure, you should be calling the Police on 999 / 112, otherwise the terrorists will be long gone by the time the "suspicious behaviour" is investigated.
Will these very suspicious people with cameras in the street i.e. Police Forward Intelligence Teams and the activists who monitor them, now each be reported to the Anti-Terrorism Hotline, even though neither group are terrorists ?
Apparently the possession of multiple mobile phone handsets and / or SIM cards is deemed to be suspicious enough to warrant wasting time phoning the Anti-Terrorism Hotline.
Thousands of people have mobiles.
What if someone with several seems suspicious ?
Terrorists need communication.They often collect and use many anonymous pay-as-you-go phones, as well as swapping SIM cards and handsets. If you're suspicious of the number of phones someone has, we need to know. Let experienced officers decide what action to take.
Having several mobile phones is not grounds for suspicion of terrorism. Since mobile phones are relatively cheap fashion items, literally millions of people have more than one of them !
Are all the charities and companies involved in re-cycling old mobile phone handsets now to be considered as terrorist suspects ?
All the mobile phone networks are pushing cheap or even free SIM cards to the public, to try to get them to swap networks or tar riffs, so owning and swapping multiple SIM cards in a mobile phone handset is also not grounds for suspicion, except by people who are out of touch with the technology market place.
These adverts are, yet again, an insult to the intelligence of the British public.
Why, unlike all the previous successful anti-terrorism campaigns around the world, is there no offer of big financial rewards for information, or details of any witness protection schemes ?
Why, with all the billions of pounds being spent on "security", is the Anti-Terrorism Hotlline still, after all these years, only a phone line / answer machine ?
Why is there no SMS text message or MMS multimedia message, or email or instant messenger or secure web form method, and no public PGP encryption key, for reporting suspicious behaviour over a mobile phone or the internet, to a team of people who are actually available in person 24 / 7 ?
No clues are given as to where, and in what context, the perfectly legal activities of owning and using cameras and mobile phones, are to be considered suspicious, so all that these adverts do, is generate a sense of repression, fear, suspicion and cynicism about the motives of the Police and the Government. They are actually helping the terrorists achieve their aim of destroying our free society.
Given the timing of this propaganda campaign, it seems to be more about trying to influence backbench Labour MPs who might be wavering about rebelling against the planned extension to 42 days detention without charge, and the other repressive measure in the forthcoming Counter-Terrorism Bill debates, and will further erode our civil liberties and freedoms, rather than being an effective anti-terrorism measure.