Friday: Police states

Friday 20/06/2003It's nice to know that somewhere in a dusty Whitehall office, somebody is thinking the unthinkable. Once, it was nuclear attack from the Soviets: in response, national and local government would retreat to a series of deep bunkers dotted around the countryside and eat baked beans.

Friday 20/06/2003
It's nice to know that somewhere in a dusty Whitehall office, somebody is thinking the unthinkable. Once, it was nuclear attack from the Soviets: in response, national and local government would retreat to a series of deep bunkers dotted around the countryside and eat baked beans. Now, the Soviets are no more and such plans are outdated: instead, we are officially scared of Terrorists, who will Stop At Nothing to achieve whatever it is they want. We don't know what that is, we don't know who they are, we don't know what they might do, we don't know where they might do it. But it's all very scary. Luckily, the Cabinet Office is on the case. In the event of natural disaster or terrorism, the Civil Contingencies Bill shows the way: airlines, water, electricity, gas, telephones and other important national systems will come under police control. The BBC remains exempt -- presumably because it has its own emergency plans in place and would do what it was told anyway -- but the Internet is most definitely on the list of stuff to get Plodded. Which raises many questions. What would a police-controlled Internet look like? Would the ubiquitous WWW prefix be replaced by LOLOLO? Google.com switched over to whathavewegothere.com? The Information Superhighway converted to the Data Letsby Avenue? But we can reveal exclusively that, contrary to popular belief, Internet porn would be allowed to continue -- provided only that it promises to come quietly. Click here to see more of Rupert's diaries.

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