A good week for liberty and accountability ends with a remarkable quote from Jacqui Smith, who has announced a review of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, which has allowed local authorities to mount 10,000 surveillance operations in the last five years. “Our country has a proud tradition of individual freedom,” she said. “This involves freedom from unjustified interference by the state.”
It is difficult to see how she squares this with the total surveillance of motorways, the data stripping of everyone crossing UK borders and the storage of information from texts, phone calls and emails. Still we should be grateful that the Home Office appears to have seen sense on RIPA. When in 2000 it was introduced, just nine agencies were allowed to mount surveillance operations, which included interceptions and secret photography. During Tony Blair’s post 9/11 legislative binge, RIPA was “updated” so that nearly 800 bodies were empowered to go into the spying business.
The first thing this really dreadful piece of legislation did was to disprove the fallacy that you’ve got nothing to fear if you have done nothing wrong.
It is indeed a remarkable quote. How dare this monstrous woman who is determined to invert the relationship between the individual and state, who has given the police essentially carte blanche to maintain a database on whomever they like for whatever reason they choose, who has ignored the European Court of Human Rights by refusing to comply with their demand to remove innocents from the national DNA database, who thinks it’s alright to set the police on opposition MPs who successfully do their job and embarass her (*breathes*)…how dare she say she intends to protect us from ‘unjustified intrusion by the state’?!!! Should we bring this quote back to her the next time environmental protesters are beaten or harassed by the police? When the ‘superdatabase’ comes into being? When the next child is arrested for taking a photograph of a train? When the next asylum seeker is sent back to the country they escaped, only later to be killed?
She and this government thoroughly disgust me. Join with me and tell her we’ve had enough of all of them, but her more than anyone else. I think Henry Porter has it just right in the final sentence – you’ve nothing to fear if you’ve done nothing wrong? If any of you didn’t know that was a fallacy before, look at what happened at the G20 protests and tell me you still believe that.