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article imageOp-Ed: Stopping the Snoopers' Charter

By Alexander Baron     May 10, 2012 in Politics
How would you like to store your e-mails and everything else you post on-line free of charge? Better still, how would you like the government to do it?
The Open Rights Group is mounting a new attack on the Data Retention Directive, which is yet another assault on both our individual liberty and our national sovereignty by that overpaid bunch of ne'er-do-wells in Strasbourg.
In the run up to the last general election, the Liberal Democrats, especially Nick Clegg, made a lot of noise about freedom. Guess what? That's all it was, noise.
According to the mailing (citations have been removed):
The “Snoopers’ Charter”: the Communications Data Bill is about to be published by the government.
When the coalition was elected, they promised that:
“We will end the storage of internet and email records without good reason”
Nick Clegg added:
"We won't hold your internet and email records when there is just no reason to do so."
Now, the government is saying that companies like Facebook and Google must keep your email and messaging records for 12 months, whether or not you are under suspicion: and that the records (not the content) must be handed over on the say-so of a police officer.
The government are asking for powers to intercept and collect information about who you talk to online by snooping on your Internet traffic, in case companies based outside the UK don’t agree to hand over your information.
That makes us all a suspect. Instead of being under surveillance when there is evidence of wrongdoing, you will be under suspicion by default.
The government says this is nothing new. That is true: they pushed European “Data Retention” laws that are being rejected in many EU countries and challenged in the European Court of Justice as an abuse of our privacy rights.
Ever seen a prison, or visited one, or worse still, been locked up in one? Prisons are some of the most secure places on Earth. One of the things that makes them so secure is that everything is monitored, including mail and telephone calls. If you don't want to be and feel quite so secure, the time to act is now, because there are plans afoot to turn Britain into an open prison. Open for the moment.
Sadly it is not a new idea, it is older than the mythical Grand Conspiracy, and every year, every day it seems, it has new adherents as the people we elect and the people who staff the corridors of power come up with more and more ways to make work for themselves at our expense, all in the name of protecting us.
Before World War II, it was protecting us from the red menace, during the War it was protecting us from the Nazi menace, then during the Cold War it was the reds again; now that capitalism has won the Cold War, Russia has gone capitalist and even China is going capitalist, there is a new war to fight, the war on terror. Oh, and let's not forget those wicked child pornographers.
The main problem though is terror. Will the exception of 9/11 - spectacular and terrible in equal measure, most of the Islamist terror attacks, and in the British Isles, dissident Irish Republican terrorist attacks, have been bargain basement jobs involving no high technology. Sure, terrorists use e-mail, but what do they say when they communicate with each other?
Hi geeze,
See you at Luton Thursday morning, then we can catch that train as planned, plant those bombs on the London Underground, kill a few dozen heathens, and book our places in Paradise.
Probably not.
A recent article about this problem can be found here. Some information about the work of the Open Rights Group can be found here.
If you think we can trust the government, or even the police, ask Pamela Somerville, the family of Mark Duggan, or the family of Kelly Thomas.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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