Re: "As an ex civil servant, I don't remember becoming a monster."
"Nobody does. Well, almost nobody. One of the things I've noticed in civil servants is that at least some of them manage to unthinkingly presume the right to decide what is an acceptable happy life for the people"
So, are you insinuating that I trampled over people's freedoms and don't remember doing so? Really?
There are laws and guidelines you work to, not that you make up for yourself.
Some people break the rules, but so do plenty of sysadmins.
"One of the defining differences between archiving cabinets full of fingerprint cards and keeping pictures of number plates, plus times and dates where the pictures were taking, of just anyone at all, is that you have to at least attract police attention to get on the former (and you knew it happened, the ink on your fingers gave it away) whereas the latter, well, you just have to go about your legitimate business and you get tracked."
But that's not true. And that's a matter of legislation, not the tool itself.
The data will indeed sit there unless you:
a) Have broken the law and don't have a tax disk
b) Later commit a offence serious enough for someone to want to go trawling through the database.
In the first case: Fair enough. In the second, it is a matter for legislation to decide when is 'reasonable cause' to do so, and a matter of surrounding technology to control and audit access.
For example, the police don't just run PNC checks when bored on people. They get in trouble for that, y'know.
"And while legislation is all good and well, it is no substitute for building the database in such a way that wilful abuse is stopped, or at least made harder, more visible, and more certainly punished."
This is already done. There is prior form that the police can generally be trusted in the matter. PNC searches are recorded and audited and coppers sometimes lose their jobs for misuse.
"However, just because there is legislation doesn't mean that the encryption and things also automatically happens. Usually it doesn't, moreso in the absence of careful auditing."
This is not the case, though. Provably so. qv.
"And given that the politicians making the legislation have no clue whatsoever about proper technical measures, you can be sure the stuff they do pass into legislation is only useful to annoy the people having to execute all the red tape, but certainly not for building a robust system, security wise."
Again, this is not how things happen. The people who design systems are aware of civil liberties, data protection laws et al. Speaking personally, they no more want a nosey plod looking them up than you do, either.
"I don't care what data indiscriminately pertaining to just about everybody, is not an acceptable tool for policing a small percentage of ne'er-do-wells, thank you."
But your police record and fingerprint records are just that. Already. They can be misused, but they are on the whole used for rounding up that minority of trouble makers. Those 'just in case' fingerprints catch a lot of criminals.
"Then again, apparently the police and goverment in general, as apparatuses if maybe not on the level of the individual servant, seem to have generally lost touch with the fact that most people generally don't bother anyone else. Certainly given the need they seem to have to bother everyone else."
I disagree. The police know damn well who the criminals are. Because they see them time and time again. They know darn well where the blame lies and that you and I are just trying to live our lives in peace. Go read Nightjack.