Surveillance

I have recently written a modern thriller which is all about the injustices brought about by the – for want of several better words – people at the head of our government.

Over this weekend (they were clearly hoping it would be dismissed as an April Fool’s Day joke) the government has let it slip that there is to be a new law on surveillance.

Now, let’s not forget the track record our Revered Leader has on surveillance. He said: “We will scale back Labour’s database state and protect the privacy of the public’s information…. Labour’s approach to our personal privacy is the worst of all words – intrusive, ineffective, and enormously expensive”. He was, in short, against increasing surveillance on the British people. He wanted to “Restore the civil liberties that are so precious to British character … regulate CCTV, stop councils from spying on people, scrap intrusive ID cards … end plans to store your email and internet records”.

This sounds fine. I am very happy with that. But now, apparently, he and his government wish to end those plans by increasing surveillance into texts, phone calls, web browsing history and email, including also instant messaging, social networking and online gaming (thanks to the Kernel at http://www.kernelmag.com/yiannopoulos/1689/and-you-thought-jacqui-smith-was-bad/ for that list).

There are plenty of misguided individuals who will think that this is OK. The government will, after all, put protections in place so that people’s records will be safe. As they were when 132 councils lost private data (over 1,000 times since 2008), or perhaps when the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency lost the data for 3m people. Or maybe they were thinking of how safe the records of children were when two CDs with the personal details of 25m people went walkies in 2007?  If you want to be reassured about the government’s careful treatment of private data, you need only look at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_UK_government_data_losses.

In short, I do not trust government with my private data. I do not trust them because there is no agency that takes my private data and treats it with respect. There are poorly paid staff, many abroad, who have no interest in the security of people in the UK and who can be easily bribed. Corruption of one or two people in an agency could allow a DVD with the records of millions of private individuals to be sold on.

This is more than a step too far – it’s a five year hike too far, and deserves to be rejected out of hand.

For sheer moronic cluelessness, this government takes some beating. I cannot believe that a conservative or Conservative government could have accepted this kind of proposal from its civil servants.

It just proves, sadly, how utterly out of touch these people are with the concept of civil liberties and what it means to be British. To try to bring us to Russia’s or China’s level of surveillance is shocking.

How could a British Prime Minister, or his advisers, think this was a good idea?

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