Further to my brief remarks yesterday on the UK government’s plans to intensify scrutiny of the internet (although it may be that the government is changing its tack), comes this piece of crap from Dan Hodges, a Labour Party supporter who writes approvingly of the Big Brother state. This man is beyond irony.
Take this as an example of his thinking:
“I don’t want less surveillance, I want more of the stuff. My idea of the perfect society is one where every street corner has a CCTV camera, everyone has a nice shiny ID card tucked in their wallet and no extremist can even think of logging onto a dodgy website without an SAS squad abseiling swiftly through their window.”
And of course this is his idea of the killer argument:
“For one thing, I have a relatively benign view of the state. There are some things it does much better than others, and I realise it’s high time it learnt to cut its coat to suit its cloth. But on balance I view the state as a force for good, rather than some giant, menacing monolith, and that’s especially true when it comes to stopping myself, my family and my friends getting blown up by crazed terrorists.”
“I have an equally benign, if unfashionable, view of our politicians and our security services. I’m not the greatest fan of either Theresa May or David Cameron, but if they say they need to have access to my emails in order to ensure the security of the nation, I’m inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt. Just having a quick look, my last three were from Middlesex County Cricket Club, Woolworths and the editor of Total Politics magazine. And if the Home Secretary and the Prime Minister are really that bothered, they’re welcome to them.”
Ah, “only the innocent have anything to fear” argument. Mr Hodges is undisturbed by the thought of mistaken identities, or youthful radicalism catching up with anyone. No sir, ordinary good men and women of the UK can rest easy in the knowledge that their innocuous, dull messages to friends and business will not incur the suspicion of those men from GCHQ or wherever.
This sort of thing is mildly terrifying to the extent that it shows how trusting so many people are of the modern state and its apparatus. And there is simply no space in Mr Hodge’s mind, it appears, for any suspicion of how such intelligence might be misused. If the recent allegations of corruption by the UK police over the supply of data to bent journalists has taught us anything, it is that if we aggregate vast caches of data into one place, someone, somewhere, will be tempted to make wrongful use of it. It boggles the mind that Mr Hodges does not see this.
Mr Hodges also argues, not very convincingly, that recent some miscarriages of justice would not have happened had we British not been so precious about privacy:
“The civil libertarians, from both left and right, have been out in force this week. But if you look at any of the most prominent modern miscarriages of justice, they have resulted not from the state accumulating too much intelligence on its citizens, but too little. I wish, for example, the Metropolitan police Operation Kratos team had been able to access, in real time, more information about the true identity of Jean Charles de Menezes, before shooting him dead at Stockwell tube. Those wrongly incarcerated for the Guildford and Birmingham pub bombings spent decades in jail precisely because the police and intelligence services did not have sufficient information on the real perpetrators of those attacks, and buckled to public pressure to bang up the first Irishmen they could lay their hands on.”
Ah, yes, if only Britain had been completely festooned with CCTV and the rest in the early 70s and later, then all those folk banged up for killing people would have been free.
I would recommend Mr Hodges spends some time reading the thoughts of security expert Bruce Schneier before opining again about the “benign” nature of an all-encompassing surveillance state.