Magazine article The Spectator

Data Fascism

Magazine article The Spectator

Data Fascism

Article excerpt

Security is a scary thing. I sometimes get the impression that my life, in so far as it is still my life, has been sealed in bubble wrap by major corporations and filed in a vault behind ten metres of steel.

It is obvious, for example, that the only people now capable of accessing my bank account details are criminal hacking gangs.

No one with any lesser degree of skill could possibly get through the labyrinthine process that my bank has just installed on its internet portal.

I put my most valiant efforts into it just now. I applied every bit of patience and brainpower. I entered my pass code and the last four digits of my debit card. I got the little calculator thingy called PINsentry(TM) and inserted my debit card into it. I pressed Identify, while balancing the contraption in sunlight. It flashed up a code. I entered it into the box on the computer screen. I waited. Nothing. I did the whole thing again.

The solar powering failed. I couldn't see the code. The computer told me in no uncertain terms that I was not up to the job of looking at my own bank account details.

I would phone my dedicated telephone banking team to ask them to intercede but telephone 'help' lines have gone the same way. Only a ruthless criminal intent on stealing someone else's identity could possibly have the nerve, patience and skill to withstand them.

Press the star key on your keypad twice now. Listen to the following four options, none of which is remotely what you had in mind -- no phone, gas or credit card company will ever offer you the option of paying your bill. They will however cheerfully give you the chance to reorganise your 'friends and family numbers', whatever that is. I suspect it's the phonebill equivalent of rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic.

Once you've made your selection the real horror begins, because now they have to verify that it's actually you who is calling. You find yourself entering the barcode on your passport, your dry-cleaning priority club membership and the serial number from the bar of chocolate your aunt Doris bought you in 1978 during a trip to Portmeirion Potteries.

'I'm sorry. The Milky Way wrapper you have entered does not match our records.

Please try again. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.