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11th September 2013: The world's gone mad and I'm the only one who knows
30th August 2013: Isn't sarcasm a wonderful thing?
25th August 2013: Operation Yewtree has turned British justice on its head
13th August 2013: Black is white. Fact. End of.
11th August 2013: Why 'human rights' is nothing of the sort ...
11th August 2013: Electric cars, not as green as they're painted?
6th August 2013: How the British nation treats its friends ...
8th July 2013: The BBC biased? How can that be? They're so NICE!
26th June 2013: Think this country is a bastion of freedom and justice and a shining model for the world? Think again.
18th June 2013: Wrinklies unite, you have nothing to lose but your walking frames!
17th June 2013: is the end finally approaching for this evil woman?
31st May 2013: Now it's official - the BBC really is a left-wing propaganda machine
31st May 2013: Those evil bastards are at it again. Yes, you've guessed it - social services!
27th May 2013: Well-known TV presenter talks sense. No good will come of it.
24th May 2013: British justice is best? Only for the very poor, apparently ...
17th May 2013: Some actual FACTS about climate change (for a change) from actual scientists ...
10th May 2013: An article about that poison gas, carbon dioxide, and other scientific facts (not) ...
10th May 2013: We need to see past the sex and look at the crimes: is justice being served?
8th May 2013: So, who would you trust to treat your haemorrhoids, Theresa May?
8th May 2013: Why should citizens in the 21st Century fear the law so much?
30th April 2013: What the GOS says today, the rest of the world realises tomorrow ...
30th April 2013: You couldn't make it up, could you? Luckily you don't need to ...
29th April 2013: a vote for NONE OF THE ABOVE, because THE ABOVE are crap ...
28th April 2013: what goes around, comes around?
19th April 2013: everyone's a victim these days ...
10th April 2013: Thatcher is dead; long live Thatcher!
8th April 2013: Poor people are such a nuisance. Just give them loads of money and they'll go away ...
26th March 2013: Censorship is alive and well and coming for you ...
25th March 2013: Just do your job properly, is that too much to ask?
25th March 2013: So, what do you think caused your heterosexuality?
20th March 2013: Feminists - puritans, hypocrites or just plain stupid?
18th March 2013: How Nazi Germany paved the way for modern governance?
13th March 2013: Time we all grew up and lived in the real world ...
12th March 2013: Hindenburg crash mystery solved? - don't you believe it!
6th March 2013: Is this the real GOS?
5th March 2013: All that's wrong with taxes
25th February 2013: The self-seeking MP who is trying to bring Britain down ...
24th February 2013: Why can't newspapers just tell the truth?
22nd February 2013: Trial by jury - a radical proposal
13th February 2013: A little verse for two very old people ...
6th February 2013: It's not us after all, it's worms
6th February 2013: Now here's a powerful argument FOR gay marriage ...
4th February 2013: There's no such thing as equality because we're not all the same ...
28th January 2013: Global Warming isn't over - IT'S HIDING!
25th January 2013: Global Warmers: mad, bad and dangerous to know ...
25th January 2013: Bullying ego-trippers, not animal lovers ...
19th January 2013: We STILL haven't got our heads straight about gays ...
16th January 2013: Bullying ego-trippers, not animal lovers ...
11th January 2013: What it's like being English ...
7th January 2013: Bleat, bleat, if it saves the life of just one child ...
7th January 2013: How best to put it? 'Up yours, Argentina'?
7th January 2013: Chucking even more of other people's money around ...
6th January 2013: Chucking other people's money around ...
30th December 2012: The BBC is just crap, basically ...
30th December 2012: We mourn the passing of a genuine Grumpy Old Sod ...
30th December 2012: How an official body sets out to ruin Christmas ...
16th December 2012: Why should we pardon Alan Turing when he did nothing wrong?
15th December 2012: When will social workers face up to their REAL responsibility?
15th December 2012: Unfair trading by a firm in Bognor Regis ...
14th December 2012: Now the company that sells your data is pretending to act as watchdog ...
7th December 2012: There's a war between cars and bikes, apparently, and  most of us never noticed!
26th November 2012: The bottom line - social workers are just plain stupid ...
20th November 2012: So, David Eyke was right all along, then?
15th November 2012: MPs don't mind dishing it out, but when it's them in the firing line ...
14th November 2012: The BBC has a policy, it seems, about which truths it wants to tell ...
12th November 2012: Big Brother, coming to a school near you ...
9th November 2012: Yet another celebrity who thinks, like Jimmy Saville, that he can behave just as he likes because he's famous ...
5th November 2012: Whose roads are they, anyway? After all, we paid for them ...
7th May 2012: How politicians could end droughts at a stroke if they chose ...
6th May 2012: The BBC, still determined to keep us in a fog of ignorance ...
2nd May 2012: A sense of proportion lacking?
24th April 2012: Told you so, told you so, told you so ...
15th April 2012: Aah, sweet ickle polar bears in danger, aah ...
15th April 2012: An open letter to Anglian Water ...
30th March 2012: Now they want to cure us if we don't believe their lies ...
28th February 2012: Just how useful is a degree? Not very.
27th February 2012: ... so many ways to die ...
15th February 2012: DO go to Jamaica because you definitely WON'T get murdered with a machete. Ms Fox says so ...
31st January 2012: We don't make anything any more
27th January 2012: There's always a word for it, they say, and if there isn't we'll invent one
26th January 2012: Literary criticism on GOS? How posh!
12th December 2011: Plain speaking by a scientist about the global warming fraud
9th December 2011: Who trusts scientists? Apart from the BBC, of course?
7th December 2011: All in all, not a good week for British justice ...
9th November 2011: Well what d'you know, the law really IS a bit of an ass ...

 

 
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We don't think this article is very well written, because it's difficult to work out what the man's original motivation was. It turns out that he was going to make a film about it – or was that an afterthought? Also it's not clear until quite late on in the text why the detectives got involved. Nevertheless it's an interesting story and relevant to us all in the Nu-Labour Stasi dictatorship. It comes from the Times ...
 

 
Can you disappear in surveillance Britain?
David Bond wanted to see if it’s possible to vanish so one day he packed his bag, got into his car and kissed his wife goodbye

Back in January last year, David Bond packed a rucksack, kissed his pregnant wife Katie and toddler Ivy, climbed into his Toyota Prius and drove away from home. Nobody knew where he was going – he didn’t even know himself. One thing he was sure about was this: “I’m going to leave my life behind and disappear,” he said.
 
A 38-year-old Oxford graduate with a solid if unspectacular career in media, Bond wasn’t your typical runaway. But then, you might have said the same about Will Smith in Enemy of the State, or Robert Donat in The 39 Steps – two of Bond’s favourite films. For Katie, left alone with a toddler, his disappearance could not have come at a worse time. “I had to juggle the childcare and work,” she says, “and I was seven and a half months pregnant.”
 
Bond might never have thought of running away if he’d not received a letter, some months earlier, informing him that his daughter was among 25 million Britons whose records had been lost by the Child Benefit Office, along with bank details and other private information.
 
He “became obsessed”, Katie remembers, about the amount of information on him and his family that was already out there. As he looked into it, he found that the UK, once a bastion of freedom and civil liberties, is now one of the most advanced surveillance societies in the world, ranked third after Russia and China. The average UK adult is now registered on more than 700 databases and is caught many times each day by nearly five million CCTV cameras. Increasingly monitored, citizens are being turned into suspects. Within 100 yards of Bond’s home, he discovered, there were no fewer than 200 cameras.
 
Before going on the run, he made 80 formal requests to government and commercial organisations for the information they held on him. He piled the replies on his floor, appalled by the level of detail. The owners of the databases knew who his friends were, which websites he’d been looking at, and where he had driven his car. One commercial organisation was even able to inform him that, on a particular day in November 2006, he had “sounded angry”. It was more than he knew himself.
 
Many people believe that, if you have nothing to hide, there is nothing to fear from all this scrutiny. But if you resist the urge to pick your nose while others are present, or close the door when you go to the toilet, you are a privacy advocate. “When you realise that your whole life is under view,” says the Tory MP David Davis, “it’s inhibiting.”
 
And what if the information about us is wrong? Bond found that the DVLA still keeps on record a youthful driving offence that should have been expunged years ago. He waved it grimly at his uncomprehending daughter: “This is Daddy’s drink-driving record.” Worse was the case of a woman he met, falsely identified by the Criminal Records Bureau as a convicted shoplifter, who’d taken a year to prove her innocence. Or the man who, after someone pinched his credit card details and used them to pay for porn, was arrested, then sacked without notice; when Bond met him, he still hadn’t been able to clear his name.
 
As Bond became more obsessed, Katie became increasingly annoyed. They argued over filling in a form for Ivy’s nursery. “They can use this data for God knows what!” Bond yelled. “I thought, for God’s sake, no one else worries about this,” Katie remembers. “Why do we have to?” She tried to reassure him: “It’s fine. They’re not going to do anything weird with our data. If some kind of weird government comes in, we’ll opt out.” He wasn’t convinced.
 
In the days that followed his disappearance, Katie heard from him occasionally, using pay-as-you-go phones he’d bought specially. But he didn’t tell her where he was, because he was being followed by detectives.
 
What he didn’t know was that Katie was being watched, too. Hoping to use her to find him, the detectives had leapt over the garden wall one night to fit a tracking device to her car. They also worked out where she was due to give birth and phoned the hospital, pretending to be Bond, to get details of her appointments.
 
As it happens, Bond had left the country, travelling to the continent on Eurostar. The investigators had guessed he might do this and impersonated Bond to phone ferry, train and airline companies that might have bookings in his name. But they missed him because he’d booked his ticket using a friend’s credit card, and changed the passenger name at the last minute.
 
In Belgium, Bond met a man who filmed their encounter and put the film online. Soon afterwards, the detectives found it: they knew Bond was in Belgium.
 
Next, he travelled to Germany. As much as possible, he paid his way with cash, and – wary of ATMs – took money out only moments before travelling. If he thought he was being followed, he got off the train.
 
After meeting contacts in Germany, he returned to Britain on a ferry. Soon afterwards he picked up a message on his BlackBerry from the detectives, telling him they knew he’d been to Belgium and Germany. They were goading him, hoping to get him to reply so they could trace the route of his e-mail. They did that several times, often sending messages that appeared to come from his closest friends. The messages brought him out in a sweat, but he didn’t reply.
 
In Kent, Bond went to his father’s house. The strain was starting to tell. He stayed in his old bedroom, dismantling all his possessions lest they concealed some kind of bugging device. The next morning there was a knock on the door. Bond told his father to keep the callers talking so he had time to jump out of the window and over the back wall. He went to some friends, borrowed a car and drove to Wales to hide in the woods – where he grew gradually more and more paranoid.
 
But the funny thing is this: it was Bond who persuaded the detectives to follow him. “I told them I was making a film about privacy and surveillance, and wanted to be hunted,” he tells me a year later, over cups of tea in his East London home, amid the clutter of a young family – toy bricks on the floor, mashed banana on the table. He wondered if it was possible, in surveillance Britain, to keep himself to himself for a month. “I promised I wouldn’t sue them, whatever they did, as long as they didn’t cause my family any distress. ‘We’ll have you in four days,’ they laughed.”
 
Bond spent a long time finding the right detectives for his project, talking to countless retired coppers before he found Duncan Mee and Cameron Gowlett of Cerberus. Ordinarily, they work as investigators for major companies and law firms, scrupulously following the letter of the law as they trail organised gangs, often in unstable parts of the world. (If they broke the law, courts would throw out their findings.) The work requires them to penetrate layer upon layer of shell companies and false identities. How hard could it be to find Bond? After all, they’re often asked to find people who might be beneficiaries of a will, and that rarely takes more than a few hours.
 
After Bond phoned them, the arrangements were finalised by his friend and business partner, Ashley Jones – producer of the film. All the detectives were given was a photo, and the name, David Bond.
 
To begin, they gathered data about him on the internet. He’d deleted his Facebook page, but they retrieved it and much more. This helped them piece together yet more information from public records that require elementary details such as addresses and dates of birth.
 
Pretending to be Bond, they set up a new Facebook page, using the alias Phileas Fogg, and sent messages to his friends, suggesting that this was a way to keep in touch now that he was on the run. Two thirds of them got in contact. As a result, the investigators were able to crash parties and find out more about Bond in conversation. Mee explains: “At the party, we’d say, ‘How do we know you are who you say you are? How do you know David?’ One guy said he’d been in a band with him, but we pretended to be sceptical and said, ‘Oh yeah? What instrument does he play?’”
 
They also went through his bins, and later his father’s. From this they were able to piece together huge amounts of detail about Bond. For instance, they guessed that he was vaguely “green” because he printed on the back of documents Katie brought home from her office.
 
Everything they learnt went up on a wall in their office, forming what they call Bond’s “data wake”. Then they used techniques that would not have been unfamiliar to Sherlock Holmes. “We looked at what kind of person he was,” says Gowlett, “so we could second-guess what he might do. His family, his education, the films he’s made. He’s a literate guy so we thought of George Orwell and Jura, the island where Orwell wrote 1984. That might be somewhere David would go. We put a pin in the map.”
 
By this time, Bond was steadily going bonkers, looking more than ever like Kevin Spacey playing some kind of psycho. Unable to sleep for fear of the detectives, and painfully lonely, he addressed his handheld camera in the dark: “I’m really f***ing freaked out … if I don’t come back, I love you, Katie.”
 
But then she phoned and told him there was a problem with her pregnancy. Nothing too serious, but she needed him to come with her to the hospital. So he returned to London, booked into a cheap hotel and the next day, avoiding the main entrance, smuggled himself into the hospital. When he found Katie at the clinic they were both overjoyed.
 
They hadn’t guessed that the detectives knew Katie’s hospital appointments, and certainly didn’t suspect that one of the other couples in the waiting room had been planted there. Bond remembers noticing them: “I thought, ‘She doesn’t look very pregnant. I hope there’s nothing wrong with her kid.’”
 
Tipped off by their colleagues, Mee and Gowlett were waiting for Bond outside the hospital. He’d been on the run for 18 days.
 
Immediately afterwards, Bond had what he calls a “weird psychic wobble”. He accused his great friend Jones of conniving with the detectives. “I became potty, behaved in a way I’ve never behaved before.” The next day, at the debrief, Bond had difficulty hugging the detectives. “I was still in a role that felt angry towards them. They seemed smug, happy to have got their man, and I was the idiot who had lost.”
 
He was appalled to see how much they knew about him, amassed on that wall. “There were huge bulldog clips holding together separate parts of my life – mother, father, schooling and so on. All obvious stuff, but it was more than the sum of its parts. The weirdest thing was the pictures of my mother they’d found in a church. It gave me the heebie-jeebies. I wanted to leave the room.”
 
On the run, Bond had been maddened by the thought that the best way to elude the detectives was to do the last thing they would expect him to do – which also meant the last thing he would expect himself. He went round and round in circles thinking that if ideas occurred to him – no matter how outlandish – he had to reject them, because the person who had thought of them was him. He hated to admit it, but he had indeed planned a trip to Jura.
 
Leaving the detectives’ office, Bond used a term to describe his feelings that he’s since concluded is inappropriate, but it gives an idea how strongly he felt at the time. He called it data-rape.
 
The journalist and privacy campaigner Henry Porter told Bond that privacy is like eyesight, or touch: “It’s that important.” Phil Booth, national co-ordinator of the campaign No2ID, broadly agrees. “Privacy is not something that people feel, except in its absence. Remove it and you destroy something at the heart of being human.”
 
You might think that the detectives, having made such impressive use of information that is publicly available, would disagree. In fact, it’s precisely because they know how information can be misused that they make the best possible advocates for privacy. “We’re often asked to do TV projects and we say no,” Mee says, when I meet them in Soho. “But we liked the fact that this project was going to take the lid off the massive amount of data on us all. That’s something that bothers us personally.”
 
“A lot of people are giving information away voluntarily,” says Gowlett. “Look how many young children are giving up their whole lives on Facebook and Twitter – everything, their date of birth, the names of relatives and friends, where they live, when they’re going on holiday and what their political views are.
 
“People should think carefully how data is going to be used. Some are careful enough to opt out of the electoral roll, but when they have a baby and a nappy company comes round they give every piece of information they’re asked for. And that will be used to tie up with other databases.” Databases such as Tesco’s, which holds information on virtually every adult in the country, regardless of where they shop.
 
The National Health Service is unrolling a multibillion-pound IT project that will upload millions of patients’ medical records on to a database, freely accessed by 250,000 NHS staff and, to a lesser degree, by private health companies, council workers, commercial researchers and ambulance staff. Letters are going out now, strongly urging us all to allow this and making it as hard as possible to opt out.
 
The detectives are appalled. “That will have all your medical history on it, your date of birth and everything that has happened to you,” says Gowlett. “It’s vulnerable, and people will be able to get all that information on you in one go.”
 
In the film, Gowlett demonstrated how easy it already was to pretend to be Bond and get information about Katie’s antenatal arrangements. For Katie, this totally overturned her previous complacency. “I was a bit freaked out that the NHS gave away our appointments,” she says. “I know what David meant about being data-raped.”
 
But in the end, David Bond concludes, it’s not enough to blame politicians or corporations. “We are all partly to blame. There is no baddie, no evil genius in Whitehall stroking a white cat.” He pauses. “At least, I hope not.”
 
The film Erasing David is in cinemas nationwide from April 29, and is being broadcast on More4 in May.
 
One Times reader commented: “I recommend that anyone who is interested in the subject of government surveillance pick up a copy of "The Shadow Factory; The Ultra-Secret NSA from 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America" written to James Bamford and published by Doubleday in 2008. The surveillance outlined in the piece about David Bond is less than trivial in comparison to Bamford's expose.
 
Bamford's other book "The Puzzle Place", also about the NSA, published in the early 1980s is also fascinating reading.”
 
Another said: “I know how to disappear from CCTV. Be a victim of a senseless violent assault in a busy town centre. It happened to me last week. Works a treat!”
 
A third suggested “John leCarre’s “The Constant Gardener” has some relevant advice on the subject of covering your tracks. On the bright side, you don’t have to evade UK authority forever. Just for the rest of your life.”
 

 
The GOS says: Recently in my local Asda supermarket (yes, I shop in Asda. Oh, the shame of it. But then that's probably common knowledge already) the check-out operator asked for my post code. She was quite shocked when I refused. It happened again the following week – different girl this time. She did have the good grace to laugh when I told her I'd give her mine if she gave me hers. They said it was just a shopping survey, but think ... I've just put my debit card through the machine and entered my “secret” PIN number, and now my card details and PIN can be linked to my address, and my address identifies me completely because it's in umpteen databases both governmental and commercial ...
 
You really can't afford to relax for a second, and it can only get worse – even if we have a change of government next week (please, God?), we won't be having a change of civil service, will we? Politicians only think they make the decisions. In actual fact they spend most of their time justifying what government departments have already decided to do. I worked in local government for a while, and it was just the same there. Most of the county councillors were in awe of the professional officers and rarely summoned up the courage to take them on simply because the officers were better informed than they were and could always blind them with science.
 
Democracy's a wonderful idea, children, but it's just a dream ...
 

 
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