The Recession is one of the two biggest fears in Britain; see: http://hpanwo-voice.blogspot.com/2009/04/britons-more-fearful-than-ever.html . Everybody’s worried about not making ends meet. I saw the above poster on a bus last week. It’s advertising the Trent-Barton Mango Card (https://www.netescape-secure.co.uk/mango/index.aspx?ReturnUrl=%2fmango%2fmembers%2findex.aspx) It’s a system for cashless bus travel that can be found in one form or another in many places all over the world. The schemes often have gimmicky and attractive names like The London Underground Oyster Card. It functions as a part season ticket, part loyalty card, just like supermarket ones. The incentives for using it are summarized on the poster; it’s more convenient, quicker and above all, it carries a monetary discount on travel and in this day and age that is very persuasive. But the benefits come at a price: a loss of privacy and civil liberties that our rulers can use to their advantage, and our detriment. What the poster doesn’t tell you is that when you pay for a bus journey with your Mango Card a lot more happens than your fare simply being deducted from your account. The system also records which bus you boarded on which route; it records the time of day you boarded too. So whoever controls the system has all the data necessary to build up a profile of your traveling activities and even trace your movements. Travelcards like Mango are just one part of a much larger change in society towards more and more technological control and snooping. Other aspects are the encouragement of the cashless society; see: http://hpanwo.blogspot.com/2008/11/coins-are-dropped.html and the fingerprinting of children in school; see: http://hpanwo.blogspot.com/2007/11/this-is-drawing-done-by-my-12-year-old.html and National ID Cards: http://hpanwo.blogspot.com/2008/01/papiere-bitte-snaps-fingers.html .
The Big Brother controllers and using a new tactic now which they’ve introduced more and more since that start of the Recession (I sometimes wonder if they’re over-hyping the Recession for this reason... among others!). They’re exploiting people’s fear of money-problems by offering them the chance to save money. This is the case with supermarket loyalty cards. When you register a purchase with your Sainsbury’s Nectar Card all the items you buy are recorded on the database so your reward points can be calculated. This means that Big Brother can see what you buy and build up a file about your shopping habits. These kinds of profiles are already in operation for Internet shoppers. On several occasions now I’ve made a purchase online and soon afterwards I get some email spam or junk-mail through my letterbox that is related in theme to the product I bought. This can only be possible if my contact details have been stored on some database that allows advertisers to target me with wares they think I’d like. The potential for the abuse of this practice is unfathomable. We have to be aware of that whenever somebody offers us the chance to save a few bob on our groceries by joining some reward card scheme. It could be an example of what David Icke calls Problem-Reaction-Solution. Yes, the consequences of the current economic climate are worrying for nearly everybody, but it’s not worth trading in our freedom from electronic tyranny for a bit of financial security. Our freedom is so valuable that surely we're not going to let Big Brother bribe us out of it!