Rolling Out the Surveillance State

When the Coalition came to power, there was a clear manifesto promise to “roll back the surveillance state,” including abandoning the much-hated National Identity Scheme and Contactpoint database, and applying much tighter controls to interception of private communications.

This week’s announcement of the new Communications Capabilities Development Programme by the Home Office appears to fly in the face of that commitment. Home Secretary Theresa May has already started shuffling through the same weak excuses that the last government used to justify ID cards – we’ve seen ‘prevention of terrorism’ and within a day have got to ‘protection of children.’ At this rate we should reach ‘control of immigration’ by teatime tomorrow.
The inevitable and justifiable outrage in conventional and social media has already covered pretty much every angle, but I thought it appropriate to dig up a piece I wrote here shortly before the last government left office, when we had heard the old canard “if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear” trotted out by a range of Ministers and government spokespeople. The Home Secretary has just resorted to that last bastion of the desperate illiberal trying to justify an unnecessary attack on civil liberties, and it’s time to remember:
“Nothing to hide, nothing to fear” is a myth, a fallacy, a trojan horse wheeled out by those who can’t justify their surveillance schemes, databases and privacy invasions. It is an argument that insults intelligent individuals and disregards the reality of building and operating an IT system, a business or even a government.”