By Mark O’Neill
Just in case anyone thinks it’s only the United States with their Patriot Act that’s going around snooping on people’s emails and listening in phone calls, think again. The British Government has unveiled proposals for a database where all emails and phone calls from within Great Britain would be held for at least 12 months as “part of the fight against crime and terrorism”
That’s the official reason but if these proposals officially go forward, obviously the potential for abuse is enormous. Things will go smoothly at first but as with all governments, they’ll find other reasons to use the information, less savoury reasons. They’ll begin to use your emails and phone calls to construct court cases against you without legal court orders for a start. Warrants? Bah! Who needs one of them anymore?
But Mark, I hear you say. Everything will be wonderfully splendid if there is a supervisory oversight body watching these devious nefarious fiends and reining them in if they get too out of line. Yes but who will be in this “oversight body”? Who’s to say that they are any better than the people they are meant to be supervising?
The world’s changing fast, there’s nasty people out there who want to do us harm, and obviously we need to equip our governments and law enforcement agencies with the tools they need to do their jobs. I don’t claim to have the perfect solution. But to me, this is not the best answer. I used to work in the civil service in Britain and so I know there are hard working honest people there. But as with every government, there are also rotten apples and I don’t want them snooping in my emails and phone calls. Do you?