Despite vicious attacks by the Tories when in opposition and huge public protests, the ‘surveillance state’ has risen again with even more virulence. Who are the Big Brothers ever keen to turn the UK into Terry Gilliam’s Brazil?
In his blog Conspicuous Chatter George Danezis writes:
"I find it troubling that there is a non-elected set of institutions of the state that have as a permanent policy agenda to undermine civil liberties, despite consistently losing the public debate when specific powers are considered by Parliament. I would call this political subversion. What is even more troubling is that the architects of such policies are hiding under the cloak of secrecy, making it impossible for those outside government and the security services to really call them to account."
When in opposition the Tories and Libdems argued against the then government's Interception Modernisation Programme for internet snooping on the grounds that "recording all this information is very expensive, unlikely to ever be totally comprehensive, technically nearly infeasible, and prone to over-collection and abuse". Not only that, it's a clear invasion of personal privacy and a flagrant breach of civil liberties and internet rights.
It was a non-starter then and remains so now. So why are we back to square one and having to protest the same arguments and sign the petitions all over again? Is it because online behemoths Google and Facebook are achieving so much with their massive personal data retention technologies that the state wants to jump on the bandwagon? Rather than pursue the conservative's ideology of reducing state control, unelected security service officials are seeking to massively increase the state's power over the individual.
Are MI5 chief Jonathan Evans and Charles Farr, top civil servant at the office for security and counter-terrorism, behind this plan to make the UK the envy of North Korea, China and despotic dictatorships the world over? I think we should be told.