Digital Dave is Watching You

In opposition the liberal Conservatives were hardline in opposing New Labour’s surveillance state. David Cameron gave speeches attacking it:

…stopping the state from exerting too much power over us demands another big change. This Government is running not just a control state, but a surveillance state. In 2007, Privacy International ranked Britain’s privacy protections joint 43rd out of 47 countries surveyed – with the worst record in Europe, and only marginally better than Russia and China. Faced with any problem, any crisis – given any excuse – Labour grasp for more information, pulling more and more people into the clutches of state data capture…  And the Government doesn’t want to stop with the basic information. They want the most complex, important, personal information there is… Scare tactics to herd more disempowered citizens into the clutches of officialdom, as people surrender more and more information about their lives, giving the state more and more power over their lives. If we want to stop the state controlling us, we must confront this surveillance state.

Dave’s government is now proposing to allow the security services to monitor every single email, Facebook status update, text and tweet. This is such an about turn, which will ramp up the surveillance state so much, that one wonders if it is deliberately being set out to be defeated. The Coalition Agreement promised “We will end the storage of internet and email records without good reason”, libertarian Tories and the LibDem left will surely form a parliamentary coalition against it which a cynical opposition will surely join. The more Machiavellian-minded might suspect that the purpose of the proposal is for it to be dropped and thereby demonstrate that the government is listening to its backbenchers. Surely when we already have Google already monitoring everything, we hardly need the state to get in the game…




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George Osborne paraphrases Boris, telling the FT:

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