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The snooper state, Tory/LibDem version

Having been very busy these last few days, I hadn’t had a lot of time to comment on the latest attempt by the UK government to tighten its surveillance powers over the internet and other forms of communication. Another article at the Daily Telegraph gives some flavour of what is at stake.

Any relief that the Cameron administration had decided to scrap proposed compulsory ID cards when it got into power have been short-lived. As predicted, once the first flush of some liberal optimism had faded, this government, like all of its peers, reverts to type. In fact, I am slightly surprised it has taken this long.

12 comments to The snooper state, Tory/LibDem version

  • Wait a minute. That BBC News story *wasn’t* an April fools?

  • Fred

    This used to be a great blog, but it’s dying. Not that the contributors still on it aren’t doing a decent job, but there’s not enough of them, with not enough time and energy. You need some new blood. The country needs Samizdata to come back revitalized. (I’d offer my services, but I’m also a burnt-out case).

  • I found the BBC article I mentioned above. I really thought that this was a joke.

  • At least electronic surveillance works in both directions. It gives me a wonderful sense of schadenfreude to see a politician’s feet held to the fire by a video of their former, no-longer-operative, promises. And Wikileaks, Anonymous, Climategate, and assorted Princes yearning to be tampons prove that it didn’t even have to be on the telly.

  • ThePresentOccupier

    Perhaps this government would be better off trying to sort out the damage done to the economy by the previous government. *Secondary* to that should be undoing the damage done to the legislature.

    All other fripperies – repealing the fox hunting ban (although that arguably falls into what I regard as the second priority), gay marriage, surveillance et al should wait until the country can afford such luxuries again.

    Hypocrites, BTW.

  • Paul Marks

    Rob Fisher – I got caught by a BBC April Fool story – or, rather, I assumed a story was an April Fool and it was not.

    The BBC Radio Four “Sunday” programme had a story about an new “People’s” Passion Play.

    A sterotype trendy vicar was interviewed – sneering at the “swords and sandals” stuff in traditional Passion Plays (all that silly “religious stuff”). His “Passion Play” would be all about a strike in a factory, where the noble workers, with their justified complaints….

    I actually thought “well at least they can laugh at themselves – perhaps I am wrong about them….”.

    However, (for some reason) I checked up later – and the story was NOT an April Fool.

    As for Cameron…..

    He made speeches (in opposition) against what he is now trying to do.

    I watched David Cameron yesterday – he put on a good performance, he was just trying to “update” things to take account of new technology, he loved British traditions of freedom and fair play and…..

    Perfect pitch – the sort of thing that convinces Charles Moore and so many others.

    However, there are other people who are not impressed by an nice (upper class) way of speaking, and wearing nice clothing, and trotting out (content-less) platitudes about love of Britain and love of British traditions.

    If we were fooled by this act (and that is what it is – a “performance” is, after all, ACTING) then we would be taken in by Max Hastings (a man who seems to base his image on “Major Dolby” in the “Ipcriss File”, sorry for my poor spelling).

    The “English Gentleman” performance is an old tactic.

    Even the Cambrige Five (or four of them anyway) played this game.

    “He must be loyal – after all he likes cricket and went to a good school….”

    I am astonished that this tactic is still so successful.

  • Miv Tucker

    The price of vigilance is eternal freedom; I cannot be vigilant if I am not free.
    (Miv Tucker, 2012)

    Or, as Justice Brandeis put it, far more eloquently (in OLMSTEAD v. UNITED STATES, 277 U.S. 438 (1928)):
    Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the Government’s purposes are beneficent. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion oftheir liberty by evil-minded rulers. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal,well-meaning but without understanding.

  • PeterT

    I hate the way they say that ‘safeguards’ will be put in place to prevent misuse of the surveillance technology. It betrays a lack of extremism in the defence of liberty. The notion appears to be that there could be a case in which this intrusion on liberty was justified, but the government in its grace recognises that fears about ‘misuse’ of the technology need to be addressed. Screw that, just destroy the surveillance technology that the government has, so that it can’t be used for any reason good or bad. Burn the servers or whatever.

    Contrast this with Cleggs pre-election promise to go to jail rather than have an ID card. I quite liked that, as it made me think ‘oh good it won’t just be me’ as I did the (quite extreme) pre-election civil liberties manifesto of the Lib Dems (would be interesting to see how well they’ve done against this).

    They really are a bunch of useless weasels.

    I feel a right muppet for bothering to vote. No more, at least not unless it serves some cynical purpose.

  • Johnb

    The lust for power burns deep within the civilised psyche, ever excusing itself with claims to be moderate and for moderation.

    If you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear?
    What happens if we make it that everyone has something to hide?

    Ah, yes. There will be safeguards against abuse. Of course, who safeguards the safeguards, or defines what is reasonable?
    Adolf Hitler was democratically elected, after all, so surely he was a reasonable bloke?

    But as the technology becomes available it will be used. There is not much one can do to stop that.
    And there’s not much one would want to do to stop technology from advancing.
    So it seems the human race is rather hoist by it’s own ability (?)

    Will reasonable men control?
    We are only beginning to understand what constitutes reason, and perhaps we overrate our objectivity?

  • Sky news is telling me that Clegg of all people is promising to scotch the secret trial proposals,ot, but kind of on t too…

  • PersonFromPorlock

    “There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters.”
    — Daniel Webster

    A useful quote from the American side of the Pond.

  • thefrollickingmole

    Is it time for a limited campaign of civil disobedience against remote policing?

    The systematic smashing of snoop cameras and road revenue ones might be a good start?
    No-one has to go on a 50 camera rampage, but a nice one or 2 a week should cramp the snoopers.
    I will, when the opportunity presents itself be putting an axe through a certain speed/revenue camera soon, not because it has ever booked me, but because i am developing a burning hatred for the mindset that says, “we will book you based on an arbitary speed infraction, but we wont respond to a burgalry”..

    Would a movement that (ironicly) could be compared to the luddites be catchy enough to force a change in mindset for our “betters”?

    Again, I do not consent to being spied upon, and wish to resist.
    I think an axe through a $40,000 machine might be a good start.