April 08, 2014

United Kingdom - The national security and anti-terrorism state

David Allen Green (@JackofKent) wrote an article on his blog, 'The national security and anti-terrorism party.' In that he said that government oversight and overreach is inexorable and inevitable. No matter who is in government. In 2012 the coalition government announced it planned more email and social media surveillance. The plan echoed a similar announcement made in 2009 by the Labour Party. Later scrapped. David Allen Green cited the Home Office which said in that article:
"It is vital that police and security services are able to obtain communications data in certain circumstances to investigate serious crime and terrorism and to protect the public."
And David Allen Green said in response:
"But they may as well be saying: 
"It is vital that police and security blah obtain data blah serious crime blah and TERRORISM KLAXON blah and to protect the public."
"The depressing thing is the sense of sheer relentlessness in the promotion of such policies; and one knows that the Tories will generally nod-a-long, just as the Labour politicians did before them. Having the Liberal Democrats in the Coalition seems to be making no difference at all.
The important bit:
"But what will be missing is any sense of democracy: no one can stop the national security and anti-terrorism party by voting."
Isabella Sankey, director of policy at Liberty, echoed this when she said:
"Whoever is in government the grand snooping ambitions of security agencies don't change. The Coalition agreement explicitly promised to 'end unnecessary data retention' and restore our civil liberties. At the very least we need less secret briefing and more public consultation if this promise is to be abandoned".
It is right that government can hold secrets and conduct surveillance. However government cannot allow mass, warrantless and unchecking surveillance. As David Davies said:
"If you want to intercept, if you want to look at something, fine, if it is a terrorist or a criminal go and ask a magistrate and you'll get your approval. You shouldn't go beyond that in a decent, civilised society but that is what is being proposed."
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