Big Brother is watching you and wants to see more

One of the worst features of the EU and the current UK government is the perpetual desire to monitor, control and watch us more and more. Today we learn that they want us to keep all emails for at least a year, just in case they need to inspect them. This snoopers charter is justified on the grounds that there are still some terrorists and serious criminals out there, so they need to know about all the emails everyone sends just in case.

Why? They have powers to go in and see the emails and computer behaviour of people if they suspect them of serious offences. They have rights to listen in and intercept where there are grounds in order to pursue an investigation.

They cannot conceivably read and monitor all our emails and conversations. That would not be a realistic way to try to find the tiny percentage of the population who harbour terorrist inclinations. Some say if you have nothing to hide, then why worry? That argument could be extended. If they propose curfews you could argue “As you normally sleep at home, why worry that you now have to?”, or if they proposed you need a permit to travel to certain places you could argue “Well you don’t need to go there very often, and its a small price to pay for security”. The overwhelming majority of us are neither terrorists nor criminals, but we have seen how anti terrorist legislation can be used for very different purposes, as with the heckler at a Labour conference, and the financial situation of an Icelandic bank.

The law abiding majority do feel too snooped on. We also resent having to pay ever more tax for clumsy security which targets the law abiding but does not effectively spot the real threats. We never wanted to live in a communist state where everything you did had to be acceptable to and cleared by the authorities. Our current masters are taking too many steps in this direction.

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60 Comments

  1. Julian Gall
    Posted January 9, 2009 at 7:51 am | Permalink

    Most of the email I get is spam (perhaps 80%) and therefore untraceable. If spammers can hide their identity, presumably it isn’t that difficult for terrorists.

    If the government really wants to do something useful, it could track down and prosecute spammers. The fact that it can’t suggests it won’t have a lot of success against terrorists either using these methods.

    Just for clarification though, will the Conservatives stop this project when they come to power? Please let us know.

    Reply: I hope so, and will be pressing for them to do just that.

    • APL
      Posted January 9, 2009 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

      It’s not really about terrorism. In fact it is not at all about terrorism, that is just a pretext.

      It is about terror though, the ability of the government to pick on someone – anyone, then hold that person, ideally for up to three months while they trawl through every bit of the poor sods life just to find a thing, anything that can be used to intimidate and blackmail that person into timid obedience.

      JR: “I hope so, and will be pressing for them to do just that.”

      The root of the problem Mr Redwood is open borders, the government does not control the entry and exit to the country, therefor it cannot know who is in the country nor if their intention is to do our country harm.

      Given that the government has willingly handed control of our border to the EU, and the EU is obsessed by freedom of movement across borders the only other way to know if the right people are inside the country is to brand and tag each and every one of us, track and record an individuals every action. Hence ID cards and the ID and DNA database.

      Not that ID cards will address the issue of the intention of the person holding the ID card. Finding out after a suicide bomber has detonated his bomb that he lived in this town and worked at that childrens primary school is actually pretty pointless.

      It does however highlight the futility of much of the vetting the government has introduced. The vetting that has proved so futile also works to destroy the concept and practice of civil society and voluntary involvement in local community.

      In short the problem is the EU, but the damage runs deep through british society.

      By the way, has the Home Secretary yet announced that the DNA records of all innocent people held by the government have been destroyed?

    • MR T JEnkins
      Posted March 19, 2009 at 9:45 am | Permalink

      Dear John ( The Right Honourable), I totally agree with you, i belief does poeple who wanted to work hard for this country, are totaly taken in for a ride. I belief, it was great of you to challenge , that seat to premier, at that point. I belief that most of the Good law abiding people are suffering the most at the monet.

  2. Stuart Fairney
    Posted January 9, 2009 at 7:59 am | Permalink

    And it also begs the question, as this is so widely known, would anyone seriously plan a terror hit by using e-mail? I suggest this is less likely.

    That said, the salariat bureaucracy that wishes to dominate every aspect of our lives might find such a power jolly useful. I suggest this is more likely. And when did you last see anyone giving up power voluntarily?

  3. Paul Williams
    Posted January 9, 2009 at 8:28 am | Permalink

    A letter in the Telegraph argued against this nothing to fear / hide nonsense very well.

    I have nothing to hide, but I fear having to prove I’ve got nothing to hide.

    And Walter Wolfgang is the perfect example of why he’s right

    • mikestallard
      Posted January 9, 2009 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

      Labour MEPs too, have nothing to hide. That is why there was such a fuss over when they had to declare their expenses. Mr Blair had nothing to hide over the Iraq war. That is why there has been no enquiry. And remember that Mr Brown regularly publishes government statistics over the current crisis in a totally transparent way.

  4. Kit
    Posted January 9, 2009 at 8:32 am | Permalink

    The best counter to “if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear” is “I fear having to prove I have nothing to hide.”

    h/t Iain Dale from The Times letter page.

  5. Roger
    Posted January 9, 2009 at 9:08 am | Permalink

    John,

    Thank you for this article. I don’t normally post on political websites but, increasingly, I feel I’m living in some sort of Orwellian nightmare.

    Please help to roll back the ever increasing control of the State. I love my country and wish to live here but what has happened over the last few years wrt legislation makes this a more difficult decision every day.

  6. Helene
    Posted January 9, 2009 at 9:09 am | Permalink

    John, what is the source of the story. I have tried to track it down via the Register and Google, but no joy.

  7. Helene
    Posted January 9, 2009 at 9:14 am | Permalink

    Sorry – just found it. I thought from the story we had to personally store the info (my work computer gets agitated if I keep 3 months of eMails, let alone 12 months…), but it the BEEB story is the one you used, it is still the ISPs who’ll be tasked with keeping our eMails. Not that this makes it any better, or less of an encouragement to emigrate.

  8. Alfred T Mahan
    Posted January 9, 2009 at 9:24 am | Permalink

    You can see why this ridiculous idea might be advocated by a bureaucrat. It enables empire building, there’s the fun of creating a new system from scratch, and if you’re employed to prevent terrorism, well, it may have some effect (although pretty small) and therefore helps you to do your job. But the point of separation of powers is that Parliament, and the responsible Minister as part of it, should be there to hit plans like this on the head instantly.

    Why isn’t that happening? I suggest these reasons: (a) career politicians, whose world view is shaped by being inside the government machine all their lives; (b) the intellectual superiority of senior civil servants over many middle-ranking ministers, reinforced by the different skill sets required to climb their very different ladders; and (c) the belief in big government held by Labour and a depressing number of Conservatives (see a and b above).

    In other words, there is a structural problem with British government – this is not just a piece of New Labour madness.

  9. Not an Economist
    Posted January 9, 2009 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    “Some say if you have nothing to hide, then why worry? That argument could be extended. If they propose curfews you could argue “As you normally sleep at home, why worry that you now have to?”, or if they proposed you need a permit to travel to certain places you could argue “Well you don’t need to go there very often, and its a small price to pay for security”.”

    Be careful what you say. I reckon Labour will (unfortunately) win the next general election. If they do I would expect the above two suggestions to be law by 2012. And when criticised for introducing them they will say they got the idea from a certain Tory backbencher (and, hopefully by then, Shadow Minister). Thus any attempt to criticise their implementation will be dimissed as Tory flip-flopping on important issues. Such is the mind and method of Gordon and Mandy. And yes I know such a suggestion would be rubbish but “rubbish” is the very essence of this govt in my view.

    Side issue: how much will this cost and can we not spend the money on sthg more pressing or even, god forbid, just not spend it? (It will be borrowed money so I personally would not countenance a tax cut if we didn’t spend it).

  10. rugfish
    Posted January 9, 2009 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    JR – “Our current masters are taking too many steps in this direction”.

    Rewrite that to: ‘Our current masters have already taken too many steps in this direction’, and you’ll be spot on.

    Liberties already taken by this excuse for a government are greater than all governments before it. Just the psychological aspects of Labour’s Political Correctness alone would count as terrorism against our liberty and freedom, and the banning of political groups is manifestly in breach of every democratic principle a country which calls itself ‘free’ can have. But when it comes down to it, so is the situation with our EU membership more akin to Mugabeism, where people are herded like cattle to the alter of democratic slaughter without so much as a bye or leave.

    No government should wield as much power as this government has seen fit to give itself.

  11. Ross
    Posted January 9, 2009 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    If you want your web browsing – including webmail – to be untraceable, you can use a system called Tor which is maintained by one of my postdocs. And where does the money for this come from, you migh ask? Iran? The Mafia? The Continuity IRA?

    No, the money comes from the US State Department. They reckon that enabling Chinese, Iranians, Uzbeks etc to browse the web despite the efforts of their governments to censor them does more good than the harm that might be done by enabling occasional terrorists to do the same.

    But then, the USA faces real global security responsibilities and thus has more incentive to behave in a grown-up way than Mr Brown’s government has.

  12. Dr Dan H.
    Posted January 9, 2009 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    All that this legislated snooping does is make people start looking for ways to counter it, and modern encryption gives people an essentially uncrackable means of doing just this. This infeasibility of breaking of encryption is something the UK Government doesn’t seem to have quite taken on board yet; even the RIP Act (which provides penalties for persons refusing to release decryption keys for suspected data) doesn’t quite admit the problem, which is that encryption permits a person to tell the state to go away and forget about something, and mean it.

    All a Government snoopers’ charter is going to do is increase the amount of encryption in use, and increase the general resistance to all forms of surveillance and intrusion. Most people already use only the OpenSSH file transfer and remote login systems on computers; mandating a repository of email is only going to force the commonplace use of twin-key encryption of email, so that man-in-the-middle snoping becomes essentially futile.

  13. Sue
    Posted January 9, 2009 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    The money would be better spent on taking sites down that host paedophile or any other extremist material (and thus negating the ridiculous need for “site certification” to boot.

    Terrorists and criminals will always circumvent systems where they think they are being monitored and any sensible person knows that.

    So, this is another government/EU excuse to put into place mass monitoring of the people.

    It is undemocratic, against my civil liberties and human rights and I strongly object.

  14. T. England
    Posted January 9, 2009 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

    They keep going on about this don’t they?

    for example,
    Big Brother in the black box (from 2000)
    http://news.zdnet.co.uk/emergingtech/0,1000000183,2080128,00.htm

    Who, or what, is reading your email? (from 2006)
    http://www.computerweekly.com/Articles/2006/06/08/216865/who-or-what-is-reading-your-email.htm

    BLACK BOXES ON EVERY ISP?
    http://www.fipr.org/rip/HOrebuttal/black_boxes_on_every_isp.htm

    And it goes on!

    One thing!
    Emails can be traced, eventually , everything can be traced! It’s normally where they are that stops spammers being caught!
    Anyhow!
    I’m not really worried about them watching emails so much as I’m MORE worried about
    THIS
    EU cybercrime strategy backs law enforcement Trojan ( from 2008)
    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/12/01/eu_cybercrime_strategy/

    There is nothing you can do on the net that can’t be found out, the British need to REALLY clue themselves up to how they are being watched/spyed on.
    It’s time the British learnt to understand computer security, after all, you know how to secure your house & car, we should all know how to lock down our computers & how we are traced or how to not be traced!!!!

    Bottom line though!
    Terrorism laws are serriously being abused.

    (I would go into more details but I’m at work ;o)

  15. Hawkeye
    Posted January 9, 2009 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

    John,

    I sincerely hope that when your lot get in power you start rolling back this stuff. What is the tories position on this kind of intrusion? The last thing I need is Cameron rolling into No 10 and quoting Pope Leo X “Since God has given us the papacy, let us enjoy it.” and deciding these powers are not as intrusive as he first thought….

    Nightmares!

  16. chris southern
    Posted January 9, 2009 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

    it’s yet another sighn of the EU giving it’s orders so that it can control countries populations through fear.

    why is it that people who insulate themselves from the public live their lives in fear and use that fear to take away innocents freedom.

    i was (as where many during those years) caught in a blast from an ira bomb in manchester many years ago.
    i never stopped going in to work as i refused to live my life in fear.
    it’s time we told the EU no, it’s time we told labour no, it’s time we started to act like adults instead of living in fear like scared children.

    treat peoples like animals, they become animals, treat people like criminals and they become criminals.
    when people become scared they become unpredictable and all goverment should remember this.

  17. adam
    Posted January 9, 2009 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

    We here all know this.
    The problem is with the public not the politicians. The public need to make a decision about their future at some point.

    Most Labour voters i talk to want to get rid of not just parliament but democracy itself.

    It is not surprising that Jackboot Straw behaves the way he does given who supports him. If he went ahead and gave criminals the right to vote it wouldn’t surprise me. Its Wolfgangs fault, for supporting a bunch of criminals, he got treated like one.

    In Russia, Stalin was voted third in their greatest ever Russian poll only missing out by a few thousand votes, its quite possible they fixed it to avoid embarrassment as Stalin usually wins these polls.
    I think that still makes him the greatest Russian of the twentieth century.
    Russia is one messed up country.

    Perhaps Joseph Fritzel is the greatest ever Austrian, or Franco the greatest Spaniard or even Hitler the greatest German.

    We should never take liberty for granted because in history its rare, we need to keep our sovereignty to safeguard it.

    The British public produced a better list

    1. Sir Winston Churchill,
    2. Isambard Kingdom Brunel,
    3. Diana, Princess of Wales,
    4. Charles Darwin,
    5. William Shakespeare,
    6. Sir Isaac Newton,
    7. Queen Elizabeth I of England
    8. John Lennon,
    9. Vice Admiral Horatio Nelson,
    10. Oliver Cromwell

    Ten is worrying but its mostly a good list. I take Guy Fawkes at number 30 to be people having a laugh or perhaps a Jesuit plot.

    • Stuart Fairney
      Posted January 9, 2009 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

      I might replace 8 with Edward ‘Longshanks’ and 3 with Baroness Thatcher, but I otherwise salute the good sense of the British people. I wonder what Sir Winston (a greater man than Mr Brown can ever dream of being) would have made of the peace time ID card?

    • StevenL
      Posted January 9, 2009 at 11:23 pm | Permalink

      What, no Gordon Brown? The man the ended boom and bust, produced over 10 years of economic growth only to be interupted by some American mortgage dealers and then saved the world from the economic meltdown they created? The man who singlehandedly eliminated child poverty, pensioner poverty and fuel poverty?

      Gordon will be remembered like this, won’t he? Or is more likely the whole sorry saga will end with him auctioning the crown jewels?

      • Hawkeye
        Posted January 10, 2009 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

        Gordon will be at the top of a list, but the title will not contain the phrase “The Greatest” unless followed by “Failure” “Disaster”, etc.

        The election simply cannot come soon enough – for the country’s sake.

    • Sam Armstrong
      Posted January 10, 2009 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

      I think it’s a sign of national self-loathing that Baroness Thatcher was not placed at 3) instead of the lefty Lady Di!

  18. Brigham
    Posted January 9, 2009 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

    I receive about ten “advanced fee fraud” letters a day. I contacted various police forces but they said that it was impossible to do anything about them as they are mostly from abroad. I then sent them to the ISP’s that were the contacts web sites, but they really didn’t want to know, and just told me to delete them. I think that if this government tries to pry into everybody’s e-mails they will be overrun with all sorts of rubbish. After millions are wasted it will all go away as “lessons will be learned”

  19. Jeremy Poynton
    Posted January 9, 2009 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    Totally agreed, John – so WHY are the Conservative Party not making more fuss about this unrelenting encroachment on our freedom?

    I’m a lost – long-time – Labour voter. From my first vote in 1970, until Blair lied us into Iraq. A comment some journo made recently rather summed up my disillusionment – that Labour had gone from Methodism to Marxism with New Labour; the Marxism of course hidden until Brown was set free by the collapse of the economy.

    My freedom is more important to me than anything; thus, I will go to jail rather than hold an ID card. My father did not spend two years in a poorly-equipped tank (some things never change, eh?) in North Africa to see his children tagged and electronically monitored (for this is what all this amounts to).

    So why are you not making a huge fuss about this? Why not make the public aware of what is happening and what is still planned? Indeed, you might even get my vote if this is shown to be clear blue water between yourselves and New Stasi.

    Latest developments, all in one week

    1. More and more harassment of legal photography on our streets and elsewhere

    2. Acknowledgement that we might have our hard drives searched remotely (I won’t. I’m a geek)

    3. Compensation clauses for firms handling ID cards to make the Conservative look dumb when the cancel them – you will, won’t you?

    • Hawkeye
      Posted January 9, 2009 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

      I hope that the tories will warn in advance that such compensation clauses will not be honoured. Having been warned in advance, the companies in question can hardly complain when the rug is pulled from under them.

      I thought that each new government was not bound by its predecessor anyway?

    • Stuart Fairney
      Posted January 9, 2009 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

      Simply announce that as part of the legislation cancelling ID cards, a clause will be inserted in primary legislation to strike down compensation clauses in contracts. That way you could kill the scheme stone dead now, as no-one (sane) would bet their own money on Brown winning next time

      • StevenL
        Posted January 9, 2009 at 11:27 pm | Permalink

        Make sure you put another clause in repealing the Human Rights Act 1998 or they’ll challenge you with it saying that ID card contractors have human rights too – and I’m being serious!

  20. Confused & Angry
    Posted January 9, 2009 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

    John,
    I am glad that you have identified this is an important issue.
    Whilst I understand that your primary concern is with the economic health of the nation, there is an increasing ground-swell of opinion amongst folk that the state is out of control and that constitutional conventions are being thrown to the winds by those who do not understand them, do not wish to do understand them or understand them but hold them in contempt.
    Personally, I would sooner be free and take my risks with the terrorists than ‘secure’ but ‘in chains.’
    I am one of your constituents and greatly concerned about the increasingly intrusive powers of the state, the politicalisation of the police and the erosion of our civil liberties.
    So, going into the next election, what is the Conservative position going to be on the DNA database, the ID card scheme, the use as ‘authorised representatives’ (?) for law enforcement on the cheap, the excessive use of police powers intended for the ‘war on terror’ which are used to harass and intimidate and inconvenience ordinary citizens, the right of peaceful protest and so on?

    Reply: Conservatives have made clear we need to restore some civil liberties taken away, starting with the abolition of the ID card and the ending of long detention without charge or trial.

    • Simon
      Posted January 10, 2009 at 4:07 am | Permalink

      Why do the Conservatives only intend to restore some civil liberties?

      Reply: Wait and see – I am one who wants them to be bold.

    • Confused & Angry
      Posted January 14, 2009 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

      Thank you for taking the trouble to respond to my rant.
      I am now the proud possessor of Dominc Raab’s ‘Assault on Liberty’ which I will read with interest on the assumption that it is broadly indicative of current conservative thinking on the issue of civil liberties.
      I am also going to the Convention on Modern Liberty later next month, so I will see what ideas come out of this.
      Judging by the number of responses to your post on ‘big brother’ and by the growing ground-swell of anger felt by many people at an increasingly authoritarian state, this issue should dominate the next election as much as the parlous condition of the economy.

  21. no one
    Posted January 9, 2009 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

    u seen “WebCabinet” Shadow Version

    over at the labour party website

    boy is that asking for a comeback bigtime

    yea stop the Id card scheme and similar nonsense now!

    disband cjit as a waste of money

    etc

  22. Mike Blackburn
    Posted January 9, 2009 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

    The Conservative Party really must get its act together on this one, because it’s a vote winner whatever is happening with the economy. If the people of Britain really knew what was going on they’d be appalled. And frightened.

    However, the mainstream media have until now proved utterly useless in covering the topic. Some newspapers are starting to draw attention to it but the broadcast media are still mainly silent. I’ve just noticed, for example, that the story on the BBC website “UK e-mail law ‘attack on rights'” has been dropped from the main page, presumably because it is of less importance to British people than news about the death of Dave Dee or the ‘rare venomous mammal caught on camera’.

    The only place where you find extensive information and discussion is on the internet, particularly the blogs. No wonder that the EU and the British government want to extend their control to the internet.

    In the hope of worrying your readers a bit more, here is a list of the major pieces of legislation already in place or planned by Labour, without asking us:

    the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (2000) allocating draconian powers to the Home Secretary, police and local authorities to gather information and invade our privacy, gag us and threaten us with imprisonment;

    the EU’s Directive 2006/24/EC on Data Retention demanding ISPs and phone companies log details of all phone calls (landline, mobile and internet) and all internet activity (including emails, messaging and web browsing); this is the legislation to be enacted via the government’s Intercept Modernisation Bill in March 2009;

    ContactPoint, which logs personal details of your children from pre-school till 18 years; including information that you may not be aware of or informed about, such as ‘chaotic’ lifestyle, use of family income, etc, and information concerning your neighbours;

    the National Vehicle Tracking Database (includes Automatic Number Plate Recognition), which photographs your movements on all motorways, major roads, town and city centre roads and filling station forecourts;

    the Passenger Name Record system, which logs details of your air travel abroad and eventually other modes of transport – at the moment shared directly between the EU and the USA;

    the CRB (Criminal Records Bureau), which records actual criminal convictions and the new Independent Safeguarding Authority database, which retains unsubstantiated accusations against people working with children and with which it will be necessary to register (at your own cost) if you work with children and young people. The creation of the latter is a bit of a mystery since it largely duplicates the purpose of the CRB;

    the Allegations Management System, which is being introduced via local authorities and is similar to the ISA in that it records allegations made against people working with children, even when the allegations have been proved false. Available to prospective employers, amongst many others.

    Not to mention the ID card scheme, the National Identity Register, the National DNA database, the NHS Care Records Service (or Spine) etc, etc.

    I’m old enough to remember the Cold War. This is the kind of legislation we would have expected of totalitarian regimes like the Soviet Union. Why should we put up with it here?

    • Confused & Angry
      Posted January 14, 2009 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

      And did you read the article in the Times earlier this week about the face recognition technology being trialled?

      Truly we are on the path to being monitored every step of our lives.

      Who will stand up for us?

  23. mikestallard
    Posted January 9, 2009 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

    Today, at the gym, there was a plastic policeman in navy blue with accoutrements, (I think he was TRAFFIC or something), surrounded by lots of giggly teenage girls with a periphery of teenage boys from the local Comp. They were being given free time at the gym (they didn’t bother with putting on proper kit or taking showers etc etc) because they were naughty.
    I asked their leader whether, if the children misbehaved, they would have their DNA taken. He gave me the reply that he had no powers to do that and he went on to tell me that, unless a crime had been committed and the Police were invited to pursue it within the school premises, all discipline had to go through the (acting) Headmistress.
    The children were being well behaved and he told me that at present things were still in their early stages, but seemed to be progressing well.
    I reminded him that if the Police got too close to organisations, they might be used in internal politics like Dominic Grieve.
    He took this point, but said that it was not likely to happen.
    I could have asked him what would have happened, say, if there had been sexual rumours against one of the teachers or if, say, racist bullying had come to light. Both of these happened recently within the same school.
    What if, say, the Headmistress had it in for one of the teachers? Could she set the Police on him/her? Go through her/his stuff, confiscate all her notes and then ransack her/his house?
    Far fetched? I don’t think so.
    http://www.eursoc.com/news/fullstory.php/aid/2935
    http://www.eursoc.com/news/fullstory.php/aid/2934
    and this page has been pulled from this address:
    http://iaindale.blogspot.com/2009/01/is-there-right-wing-extremist-under.html 
    Keeping the Police out of normal life is a good idea: they are there to fight crime and keep the peace. That’s all.

    • mikestallard
      Posted January 9, 2009 at 5:58 pm | Permalink
      • Hawkeye
        Posted January 10, 2009 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

        I think the problem most of us have is that we regarded the “dangerous left” as being like Brezhnev, Stalin, Lenin and so on. What we have not appreciated is that the truly dangerous amongst the left are the ones that appear reasonable and concerned with justice.

        These “common or garden” lefties are more dangerous simply because you forget that they will always defer to socialist theory no matter how unreasonable it seems in the real world. These are people you know and who seem normal in everyday life, but their political philosophy is utterly poisinous. They slowly degrade our systems by chipping away at them until a tipping point is reached when you suddenly realise that a full-blown totalitarian state has emerged unannounced.

        Unless it collapses under its own ineptitude, the EU will become the new soviet. It is nearly there already.

        • mikestallard
          Posted January 11, 2009 at 7:38 pm | Permalink

          I totally agree with this statement.

  24. Roger Thornhill
    Posted January 9, 2009 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

    I remember seeing software 8 years ago that was already years old that could create patterns between people and events and show it graphically.

    “terrorist cells” have certain link patterns. Organised crime has another. It would, I suspect, be very easy for the State to hoover up all these email exchanges and flag up suspect patterns considering the huge strides in computing power over the last decade.

    The problem being, this is tantamount to “fishing”. It, to me, runs a high risk of having, as Iain Dale so correctly says, to have to prove you have nothing to hide.

    People should not have to explain themselves to OR have their personal behaviour investigated by the authorities unless the authorities can prove Probable Cause to a Judge and get a warrant first for the collection of data and then, potentially, for the arrest..

    it seems to be that these rules are being created as if we live in some “Second Life” where English Common Law does not exist for these people.

    As far as I am concerned, it should be GAME OVER for them.

  25. DennisA
    Posted January 9, 2009 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

    Other less wll recognised aspects of the constant surveillance are, on a minor level, bus passes which transmit back to a database when swiped. (Grumpy old men can still cause problems for the government)

    More significant is the push for road pricing. They would then know the whereabouts of all drivers. Of course so many people have voluntarily bought tracking devices, (sat nav), that the government only has to do to the providers what they are doing to the ISP’s and request their records under the Terrorism Act.

    Number plate recognition cameras on some motorways are another part of this desire to watch us every minute of our lives.

    On-line petitions are a brilliant way of finding out the names and addresses of those who strongly disagree with the government. I suspect a nice little database is building there as well.

    New born children are already bar coded and entered into the NHS database.

    I really am not paranoid, I just think they are out to get me.

    • rugfish
      Posted January 10, 2009 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

      But maybe not as naiveté as some who think they’re only out to get everyone else but them.

    • mikestallard
      Posted January 10, 2009 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

      According to Charles Moore, in the Telegraph, this will mean, in a few years, restrictions on movement as people will need interior passports to travel within the UK, and, indeed, within Europe.
      This isn’t such a ridiculous idea if you think about it. With Regional Government in place, each Region would want to keep a check on terrorism, smokers, fox hunters and paedophiles, wouldn’t it.
      “Papers, please!” “All in order!” Or – “Step slowly out of the car with your hands on your head and come with me…..”

  26. matt
    Posted January 9, 2009 at 10:59 pm | Permalink

    The gradual chipping away at personal freedoms has been going on in earnest since the Tory governments of the 80s. How many people reading this blog thought that the restriction of trade union freedoms was a bad thing? Not many I’d guess but it it suddenly seems a different matter when those restrictions are placed on all. Just remember that most CCTV in the Uk is operated by local government and most local government is Conservative controlled. That fact alone means I really have no faith in a change of government bringing about improved civil liberties. I’m starting to think JR is a very lonely voice of reason on this issue.

  27. Jabba the Cat
    Posted January 9, 2009 at 11:36 pm | Permalink

    Funny, I don’t hear a peep from Call Me Dave, Boy George, the Invisible Hague or the other part time members of the shadow cabinet on this topic and many others.

  28. Blank Xavier
    Posted January 10, 2009 at 3:47 am | Permalink

    I am a professional software engineer. I’ve been in the industry for 21 years. I currently write an SMS router, which is sold to the large mobile telcos. I write Windows kernel code in my spare time (network filter drivers to permit bandwidth shaping).

    It is straightforward to install the necessary software on a PC to ensure privacy from State monitoring.

    I use Tor to anonymise my web-browsing and I use PGP to encrypt my emails.

    Anyone with one inch of brain can do exactly the same. It is *VERY* easy, it has been made very easy, so that the software can be widely used.

    The technical rationale of this massive survellience effort is *profoundly and blatantly flawed*.

    I don’t mean a little bit, or perhaps its understandable that it’s not been understood – I mean, fatally, obviously, blatantly, profoundly, absolutely and unquestionably incorrect. It is NOT a valid reason and it could never be a valid reason. Anyone presenting it as a reason should immediately be removed from any position of authority relating to this work because they have proved by their opinion that they are utterly unqualified both technically and professionally – because they do not know absolutely fundamental information and they have failed to obtain that information when it is trivial to acquire.

    Anyone who wishes to retain their privacy can do so. The average Joe in the street will not, because he has no need. Anyone doing anything significantly illegal *will* be very likely to do so.

    The only people being watched by this effort are the innocent.

  29. Bernard Johns
    Posted January 10, 2009 at 7:19 am | Permalink

    “Conservatives have made clear we need to restore some civil liberties taken away, starting with the abolition of the ID card and the ending of long detention without charge or trial.”

    Sorry John, Not good enough.

    I am, and I suspect thousands of others, are looking to the Conservatives to state…….
    …..That they WILL restore ALL civil liberties taken away.
    ….by labour over the last 10 years.

    Reply: I would be happy to vote for that. I worded my reply cautiously as we still await all the detail of the repeals we will need. Dominic Grieve is a great advocate of civil liberties, so I am hopeful.

    • Bernard Johns
      Posted January 10, 2009 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

      Thank you John,
      Dominic is a great advocate of civil liberties, he is also
      my MP so too am hopeful.

  30. Anne Palmer
    Posted January 10, 2009 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    You John, belong to a Political Party that I have always voted for but will never do so again. I will never vote for a Party that wants to remain in the European Union and neither do I want to vote for a Political Party that has to obey orders from foreigners. I want a Government that can actually govern and earn the money for the job. The people of this Country can no longer afford to pay those that have quite deliberately made themselves redundant. People are losing their jobs now even though they have worked hard, why should people remain in office that have given their responsibility away?

    ID Cards are a requirement of the EU, and always have been, even when this was denied by our MP’s.

    My family fought -and died- for freedom which our own have taken away. If the Conservatives were in power, they too would have to obey the orders of foreigners, unless they came out of the EU. If the Conservative would withdraw the Treaty of Lisbon from Rome before all 27 EU States has ratified it and put it to the people in a referendum then even the EU, in one form or another might survive, as it is there is a strong likelihood of it failing because the people are no longer behind it.

    William Hague was quite correct that withdrawal could be done because it has already been done in the past. Will you get the chance to try? Not if the Conservatives remain on the course it is on at present, and that is for sure. The people have got to learn to trust politicians again and that may take a long, long time, even then it will be difficult. Why on earth would people, who would love to have a job and are denied the chance now in these ‘credit crunch’ days, vote for some who wants paying and vast expenses yet allow foreigners to do the job they should be doing?

    Reply: The danger in not voting Conservative is you will help federalists to stay in power.

    • Anne Palmer
      Posted January 10, 2009 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

      As I see it AT THIS MOMENT IN TIME there is no difference between any of the three major Parties. We will still be governed by the EU and we will STILL be paying for a full complement of MP’s that cannot Govern and have to accept everything that the EU decides.

      If the Conservative GET IN, they will remain in the EU. By the time of a General election if the people of Ireland do not vote NO, it will be too late to withdraw Lisbon. Whether people will continue to pay for a foreign Government to Govern this Country we will have to wait and see, but one way or another, if the people have no money to spare, they will not be able to afford to pay two Governments.

      As we were denied a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty perhaps the June MEP’s election should be of interest especially if people decided to use THAT election as the referendum they were denied? Vote to save your Country instead of their Party? Perhaps where we place our little cross will really make a difference this time? I understand this is what Mr Barroso fears. I would like his fears to become reality. This then may be the only chance we may have to ‘right that wrong’ in denying a referendum on Lisbon, and perhaps put fear into the hearts of our own British politicians so much so they may change their idea of wanting to remain in the EU to getting out, for they may lose their ‘seat’.

      Either THEY want to Govern our Country or they want foreigners to do it and the latter, as I am sure you know, is against our oaths of allegiance and a betrayal of all those that once fought and died for freedom we seem to be letting go day by day.

      • rugfish
        Posted January 11, 2009 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

        Well said Anne.

        • rose
          Posted January 14, 2009 at 11:09 am | Permalink

          It will be interesting to see the outcome of an election where conservatives vote UKIP, socialists vote BNP, and liberals stay with their own party.

      • Roger Thornhill
        Posted January 28, 2009 at 11:08 am | Permalink

        Anne, there is a party that holds the rights of the individual as very important, as well as the Rule of Law (as opposed to being ruled BY laws).

        That party is the Libertarian Party – http://www.lpuk.org.

  31. Rose
    Posted January 10, 2009 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    Although I am not a tax payer I am now forced to fill in tax forms. Not wanting to pay an accountant to manage this for me I now go to the tax office where a surly official who knows nothing about me opens up his computer and then knows everything about me. This seems to make him even more surly. I feel as if I am living in the old Eastern Europe.

  32. Diablo
    Posted January 10, 2009 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

    And the day this comes into effect, I predict an absolute avalanche of e-mails flowing as people try to overwhelm the system by sheer volume

  33. Anne Palmer.
    Posted January 28, 2009 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

    I was recently introduced to “Face Book” but didn’t bother with it for some months, quite simply because with all the research I do, I simply do not have the time. However, at the end of last week I went ‘on’ to see what it was all about. The many photographs, the personal details given so eagerly on that web-site is a gift to those that would snoop to place those details so freely given, on to a Data Base.

    I entered some fictitious names and it was surprising what I came up with. I have sent an e-mail to family members to be very careful what they place on there and to remove some of the photograph OF ME (And Gee, I am so ugly!) that I did not give permission to place on there, to remove at once. I think I will now be replaced by Minnie Mouse.

    Face-Book was a lovely idea-or was it so gullible people would fall into a trap? Too suspicious am I? Sadly, what is happening now to our Country is nothing compared to what it will be when it is completely Governed by foreigners-can’t happen did I hear you say? Wont happen? For the most part we are being governed by foreigners now.

    I will ask a straight question John if I may? Is this Country eventually going to transfer its remaining waters, seas and Oceans to the EU for their Motorway in the Sea?

  34. Anne Palmer.
    Posted February 2, 2009 at 10:11 pm | Permalink

    Perhaps I had good reason to be concerned about Facebook because apparently, the Facebook founder has finally found a way to profit from its 150m members’ private data by allegedly planning to exploit the vast amount of personal information it holds on its 150m members by creating one of the world’s largest market research databases. Details that have been so eagerly given to strangers.

    That was not all I have recently come across from delving a little deeper into finding the answers to certain questions I have had recently.

    Why do we ALL have to go on to “digital Television” with no CHOICE? Why when our Digital TV breaks up in fog yet analogue gives a perfect picture? Why have we ALL got to go on Broad Band? Again, probably NO CHOICE. Why, when many people have an analouge TV in every room and have done for many years, why are we being dictated to now into having new Large TV sets which will not be suitable for bedrooms? Will these sets be “moblie”?

    Just ask yourselves WHY are these new HDTV sets mandatory? Start serching for the answers.

  35. Anton
    Posted June 4, 2009 at 12:06 am | Permalink

    Cool!

  36. Steve Paget
    Posted April 3, 2012 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

    So, now that your government is proposing exactly the same thing, will you still be opposing it?

    Reply I do oppose more surveillance, and will vote against any proposal which I think is immoderate and against our liberties.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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