Theodore Dalrymple
February 24, 2014

People who were charged with a crime in England used to be told by the police that they did not have to say anything, but that anything they did say might be taken down and used as evidence against them. I think we should all be given this warning whenever we use a mobile telephone.

Recently the courts asked me to examine a man charged with murder. Among the documents in the case the prosecution provided for me were transcripts of the accused man’s last few mobile telephone calls to the person who was soon to become his victim. The accused, of course, had no idea that his calls were being recorded. There was no doubt whatever that he had committed the act of which he was accused and that he was not altogether a nice chap; murderers seldom are, though I have known some nice murderers. Nevertheless, I found the transcripts disturbing. Everything these days is taken down and may be used in evidence against us.

Practically all our life in the public space is now recorded by a camera placed somewhere unbeknown to us. Video evidence of the accused person’s movements before his alleged crime is now routinely produced in court. There are millions of recordings of us. It is enough to make a sensitive person fear to leave his house and never to use his telephone.

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