Tuesday, 15 July 2014

The "Security vs Liberty" fallacy of #DRIP law

MPs are continuing to abuse your liberties in the name of "crime" and "terrorism". They say that the law they are debating in the space of one day, because the previous 3 months were not long enough to discuss the wholesale recording of our movement online and over the phone, is the "right balance" between security and liberty.

This law, supposedly well balanced, says that every phone call you make, every website you visit, every person you talk to on Facebook, every person you text, every person you message on a dating site, every email you send and much, much more may be able to be required to be stored in a database for up to 12 months.

It also says that without a court or a judge ever hearing about it, a government minister can assign whoever they want to be able to query that data. The police and other security services are included by default, naturally, but it could be anyone that a cabinet minister believes (or is convinced to believe) deserves access to this kind of information about you.

It is law that is supposedly going to be ok because there will be "reviews" and "checks and balances". Naturally again, none of these exist within the law which will come first and be legally binding, while everything that comes after will merely be bureaucratic agreements and process that can be changed on a whim.

To every one of the hundreds of MPs that voted for the law, I would ask them to go back to their constituents and ask them this:

"Would you mind if someone followed you around every day, noted down who you talked to and what shops or offices you went in to, and then logged this in a database that would keep this information for access by anyone that the government wishes to give it to for 12 months? They wouldn't look at what you bought in the shop, but they would know the date and time you went there. They wouldn't know why you went to that other person's house, but they would know who was in there and who talked to who. They wouldn't know what you talked to the person in the pub about, but they would know how long you talked to them for and when. Is this something that is ok for us to do in order to help prevent crime?"

If they can't have a serious conversation about the removal of people's privacy in the "real world" then they have no right to discuss removing it in the "virtual world". It's time that these out of touch MPs stopped treating how we live our life as somehow permissibly scrutable because it's done in a method that is cost-effective to monitor, when the exact same action done "offline" would draw instant, and disgusting, parallels with some of the worst dictatorships in our history.

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