David Cameron has pledged that, if re-elected in May, he will introduce legislation to allow monitoring of all internet, email and mobile telephone activity.
This “snoopers’ charter” has already been rejected once, on the grounds that it would impose an untargeted and intrusive level of surveillance upon the general population and that it is an utterly unnecessary addition to the powers which the security services already have: effectively it would mean that we were sacrificing our freedom in order to preserve our freedom. For our salvation on that occasion we can thank the Lib Dems, who fortuitously remembered some of the principles that they spoke of in the run-up to the last election. That the Conservatives are still determined to force it through if they secure an overall majority next May is utterly unconscionable and speaks volumes of their contempt for human rights and civil liberties.
To those who would counter with the tediously predictable “If you’re doing nothing wrong then you have nothing to fear” or the ridiculously naïve “The security services will be too busy protecting us to peruse our intimate messages”, consider this: how comfortable would you feel about having CCTV cameras mounted in your bedroom? (I mean, I do, but that’s for an entirely separate purpose – and, for the love of God, don’t anybody tell my wife!)
This legislation would effectively enable the thought-policing of our civilian population – despite the fact that our entire justice system is founded upon a presumption of innocence. For the sake of future generations, we have a duty to defend our precious liberties, not surrender them on the say-so of faceless spooks and panicky political halfwits (Boris Johnson: “I’m not particularly interested in all this civil liberties stuff when it comes to these people’s emails and mobile phone conversations.”) We do not live in a police state, nor should we aspire to.