We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day

This lack of information, and therefore accountability, is a warning that the supervision of our intelligence services needs as much updating as their bugging techniques. The state should not feel itself entitled to know, see and memorise everything that the private citizen communicates. We cannot even rely on incompetence as a bulwark for our freedoms. The state increasingly has the capability to retain everything as the cost of computer memory collapses.

I have been shocked but also mystified by Snowden’s revelations. Throughout my time in parliament, the Home Office was trying to persuade politicians to invest in “upgrading” Britain’s capability to recover data showing who is emailing and phoning whom. Yet this seems to be exactly what GCHQ was already doing. Was the Home Office trying to mislead?

Chris Huhne

15 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Lee Moore

    Perhaps not the happiest choice as a champion for

    (a) why government data collection is always and necessarily a bad thing, and
    (b) the shocking awfulness of trying to mislead people

    I’ve never understood how people can loathe cuddly folk like Tony Blair and Gordon Brown when there’s people like Huhne about.

  • lol, yes… but the SQOTD is more based on “Even HUHNE thinks this is fucked up!” 😀

  • Brian Micklethwait (London)

    To back up what Perry DeH just said, I’ve always reckoned the basic purpose of the SQotD to be to combine, in some ratio, interestingness with truthfulness. Something not necessarily true, but said by someone interesting, counts. In this case, something true, said by someone interestingly disgusting, also works well. Who is saying it, rather than what he merely says, is often what really gets your attention.

  • Patrick Crozier

    Interesting how the interestingly disgusting become less enthusiastic about state violence the moment it looks like they won’t be the ones doing it. Perhaps?

  • RRS

    Over-used words that are becoming meaningless:



  • Tedd


    “Accountability” is how bureaucracies mortify a thousand sins. NSA agents spying on former girlfriends? No problem, just add another layer of “accountability.” Repeat as necessary. The word is becoming meaningless because it describes the ultimate bureaucratic useless machine.

  • Richard Thomas

    No surprise. This is what happens when a representative body accumulates so much responsibility that they have to delegate authority and the delegated authority vastly out-measures what is left behind.

    Statists will refuse to see it, of course.

  • Very retired

    In a certain sense, this situation is another powerful argument for the reduction of the state to one with a strictly limited size and scope.

    Hypothetically, it is possible to conceive of a very minimalist state which, for legitimate internal and external security reasons, might acquire large amounts of information about it’s citizens due to the nature of a computerized society.

    However, that scenario is significantly less threatening than the current situation for the basic reason that a minimalist state does not control, and cannot threaten, the vast range of human activities than does an intrusive, leviathan state, such as we have now.

    By it’s very nature, the collectivist state is a threat to the ordinary citizen when it violates privacy concerns, as it inevitably will, because it controls, regulates, and generally meddles with everything the citizen does, while the minimalist state has little involvement in the vast bulk of people’s everyday activities, and those areas it does involve itself with are strictly defined and limited.

    For decades, the standard leftist argument was that the intrusive state was needed for economic, then social, then environmental reasons, but that personal matters like art or sexuality or drug use should be left alone. Of course, this assertion of some things being off-limits while everything else was merely grist for the mill always was a pipe dream, and now we are confronted with the inescapable fact that it was nonsense all along.

    It is always fun to watch collectivists being forced to confront the fruits of their labors when they have to eat the pie those bitter fruits produce, but, of course, the enjoyment is always tempered with the knowledge of how much damage they have done along the way.

    As the blue social model collapses from it’s inherent contradictions, the wailing and gnashing of teeth amongst the true believers will rise to new heights, and the scapegoating will become ever more feverish and vicious. We must be fore-warned, and prepared.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Very, quite so. But it would be a lot more fun to watch if these people could bring themselves to see that they themselves concocted the pie of poisonous fruit that is giving them heartburn.

    Unfortunately, there are innumerable examples to show that they don’t have to eat the pies. As but a few examples, I present Mr. T. Kennedy, Mr. A. Gore, Mr. J. Kerry, Mr. M. Moore, ….

  • Very retired

    Julie—your point is well taken.

    That bunch, and far, far too many others such as the Clintons, have received a pass by the various elements in society,such as the gramscian marchers in academia and the media, who should hold them to some consistent standards of both intellectual coherence and moral behavior, but who, instead, grant them indulgences For being dependable progs and give them a pass.

    As I have said many times, we face a long, complex task as we dismantle the collectivist state, not the least part of which will be to reform the corrupted institutions in our culture which have been overrun and co-opted by collectivist ideologues, and, therefore, badly damaged and discredited.

  • thefrollickingmole

    But hey, Im sure no public servant would ever leak the teenage webviewing habits of an anti-statist to the media if their position was ever slated for cuts.

    I remember when it was (alleged?) Hoover had dirt files on politicians that made him impossible to remove. Hed be king of the world now.

  • Rob

    It is perfectly possible that the Home Office was unaware of what GCHQ was doing. Secrecy, incompetence, lack of oversight…all are possible.

  • Tedd

    I remember when it was (alleged?) Hoover had dirt files on politicians that made him impossible to remove. Hed be king of the world now.

    Au contraire! He’d have stiff competition from other agency heads, which he never faced before. (In case anyone might misconstrue my meaning, no, I am not arguing that this is a good development.)

  • guy herbert

    “Throughout my time in parliament, the Home Office was trying to persuade politicians to invest in “upgrading” Britain’s capability to recover data showing who is emailing and phoning whom. Yet this seems to be exactly what GCHQ was already doing.”

    – shows he really hasn’t been paying attention. The point of the Communications Data Bill was that it would have put a PRISM-like system in the hands of the Home Office to be used by all the 700-odd police, HMRC, government departments and quangos who currently exercise RIPA powers, and finessed Human Rights Legislation out of the way by making it a system “provided by law” for functions “necessary in a democratic society”. It would also have extended powers to collect records of communication systems other than telecoms, so that courier companies, for example, might have been required, by order, to make their records available to all of the above.