Beware the Snoopers’ Charter Rising from the Grave…

Rise from graveThe Communications Data Bill – the Snoopers’ Charter – is dead, so Nick Clegg has assured us. I hope he’s right – but we need to be very careful not only that it is dead, but that it is safely buried, and on hallowed ground. These kinds of laws – these kinds of ideas – have  a long history of rising from the grave. They hide, half-dead, hidden from our eyes, mouldering and festering in the minds and files of spooks and authoritarian civil servants, ready to emerge and wreak havoc.

The idea for total internet surveillance has been around in UK politics for a long time. The ‘Interception Modernisation Programme’ was brought to the table by Labour in 2008 – but the ideas behind it had almost certainly existed for longer, and the attraction of being able to monitor everything that everyone does online is clear to almost anyone with authoritarian tendencies. That, sadly, includes a vast number of politicians of almost all parties – and certainly large numbers of all the three leading parties – as well as many working in law enforcement or even in public policy. It may be inevitable – the kinds of people who are attracted to all those kinds of careers include many who think they know what’s best for everyone…

Of the many, many problems with this kind of approach, one is rarely talked about: that the whole idea comes from a position of fear. The internet feels very big, very ‘dark’, very ‘wild’, very much ‘out of control’ – and that’s very scary to someone who believes that you need ‘control’ in order for things to work. The way that the internet feels hard to understand – not just technically, but socially, and practically – makes this even worse. The scrabbling around by the authorities about how to deal with ‘threats’ on twitter – the farce around the Twitter Joke Trial for example – makes it all too clear. If something is beyond simple understanding, there’s a tendency to clamp down, to block, to limit, to try to control…

…and I’m afraid it’s a tendency that won’t go away. It will re-emerge again and again, in new and different forms. We still don’t know whether we’ve killed – let alone buried – the Snoopers’ Charter, but even if we have, it will re-emerge, and probably nastier, smellier, with sharper claws and teeth. We need to be ready for that.

Zombie rising

5 thoughts on “Beware the Snoopers’ Charter Rising from the Grave…

  1. You are correct. This thing is not dead, It has just been suspended. The former Home Secretary, Alan Johnson came out in support of the Communications Data Bill, last night on This Week. We know the Tories will re-introduce it if they get a majority in parliament and given Labours record on civil liberties, I would imagine that they would not hesitate to bring it back, in some form, if they get in to power.

  2. Here is an idea. The next time politicians try to re-surrect this, we should support it on the condition that it will be compulsory for all sitting MPs to have their data and records publicly available for scrutiny in real time. After all, its only in the name of protecting democracy.

    That will shut them up.

  3. It’s finally time for Hollywood’s big night.
    While online advertising we do share information on their companies, converse with prospects and customers and offers a whole new light.
    It may be a product, service or event.

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