Tuesday, August 20, 2013


I wrote a letter to my MP this morning, something I generally do a few times a month when I get angry about something the government is doing or not doing.  This morning it was the abuse of the power of schedule 7 of the Terrorist Act 2000, which was used to detain David Miranda, definitely not a terrorist, but a person of interest to the intelligence community as his partner is Glenn Greenwald (who has been interviewing the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden).

I'm alarmed by the fact that so many people accept that the government "needs" to be able to detain anyone they fancy, invade their privacy, raid their laptops and phones, on the basis that they might be involved in terrorism.  They had no such suspicion with David Miranda - at no stage did they think he was a terrorist or involved in terrorism.  But they held him under those law big fat anyway.

My MP, John Randall
I can see that neither the US nor the UK governments will enjoy the revelation that they have been trampling over the rights of their citizens to privacy, subverting the rules which say they need a warrant to read email or messages, and bullying companies into co-operating.  However, they seem to have lost sight of the sort of ethics that we expect them to have, the sort of ethics they *pretend* to have, where they do obtain a search warrant before charging into someone's private life.

The changes that have come since 9/11 have mostly been an intrusion and inconvenience for perfectly law-abiding citizens.  It seems to me to be common sense that it would pay the authorities to be chasing the actual terrorists, instead of trying to corral huge amounts of information about all of us.

It seems to me that we are sliding inexorably into a state where we aren't surprised that advertisers, government and nearly everyone else has access to the contents of our email, telephone messages and internet history.  It's a dangerous and slippery slope that ends with the state having more power than is good for it, and our freedoms evaporating one by one.  Protest now, before protest becomes categorized as a terrorist act.

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