Brit Dee, Contributor
The British home secretary Theresa May has described those opposed to the introduction of hugely intrusive telephone and Internet surveillance measures as “conspiracy theorists”.
On Thursday the government will publish in draft form details of a bill called the Communications Capabilities Development Programme (CCDP) which, if passed, will allow the police and intelligence services real-time access to details of all British phone calls and Internet activity.
The bill will therefore allow the state total surveillance of all British communications – including phone numbers and email addresses of people you have been in contact with, as well as exactly where and when the contact took place – without the need for a warrant, or even any suspicion that you have been involved in criminal activity.
Responding to the outcry from those who see the legislation for what it is – a massive ramping up of the Big Brother state – May blithely dismissed critics by saying that she didn’t
understand why some people might criticise these proposals. I have no doubt conspiracy theorists will come up with some ridiculous claims about how these measures are an infringement of freedom. But without changing the law, the only freedom we would protect is that of criminals, terrorists and paedophiles.
The bill follows proposals originally drawn up by the previous Labour government that were scrapped in November 2009 due to widespread criticism. In a clear example of how political parties shamelessly abandon election pledges once power has been secured, the current Conservative and Liberal coalition had promised to dismantle Labour’s intrusive surveillance society if elected; the Conservative shadow home secretary at the time, Dominic Grieve, even published a policy paper entitled ‘Reversing the Rise of the Surveillance State’.
If passed the CCDP bill will see the government pay telephone and Internet providers to track, collect and store huge amounts of data, with estimates suggesting the scheme could cost hundreds of millions of pounds; a Web tracking bill proposed by Labour in 2006 had been expected to cost up to £2billion. The funding for such systems will of course be extracted from British taxpayers, forced to pay for our own enslavement as we also fuel the military-industrial complex waging illegal and immoral imperial wars in the Middle East.
With some people growing cynical of government fearmongering about the threat of “Al Qaeda” terrorism in order to pass repressive legislation, the authorities have instead decided to exploit the highly emotive issue of paedophilia to justify their new plans. May has claimed that such a law will help stop child sex grooming gangs, such as the one recently broken up in Rochdale, northern England.
As usual May has made no mention of the obvious dangers – in addition to the huge infringement of civil liberties – posed by such a scheme. There are serious implications in terms of how such a large amount of personal and sensitive data could possibly be stored securely. As Guy Hosein of Privacy International noted back in February,
This will be ripe for hacking. Every hacker, every malicious threat, every foreign government is going to want to access this.
Big Brother is watching – and he will be watching even more intently, if this horrendously repressive bill is passed.