It seems almost inconceivable, but it might actually be true, The Home Office is proposing the creation of a gigantic database that would log every phone call, every e-mail and every website that is visited from Britain.
The nominal excuse- as usual- is "to combat terrorism". However it represents a truly vast invasion of the privacy of British Citizens. It reflects a culture amongst some key elements of the security agencies and law enforcement officers that people are all guilty until proven innocent.
This is the mindset that has already made the UK the most spied on free society in the world- 4.2 million cameras, which represents a staggering one camera for every 14 people. Yet a series of investigations have shown essentially no impact on crime figures from the use of CC cameras at all.
These same agencies are those that support the use of ID cards- a further invasion of privacy- and yet can not guarantee the security of the data that is collected at almost any level.
It is not enough to speak out about civil rights. The time has come to respond to the co-ordinated position of these individuals with a joined-up response of our own. In my opinion a legal right to privacy needs to be adequately defined- preferably with constitutional force. Strict limits need to be set as to what the State is and is not allowed to hold on individuals, and that the individual should have the right to know and to challenge the information held on them in government information systems. A genuine freedom of information act, based on full transparency, must now be established.
Accountability is at the heart of the democratic system- the secretive and closed state that has been created in recent years has no business holding so much information on individuals and in the end it may prove to be a more than hypothetical restriction on our freedoms.
The very basis of our liberty is not "those that have nothing to hide have nothing to fear" but that that we are all "innocent until proven guilty". Our surveillance society is not safer and neither does it adequately protect the data it holds.
It should be dismantled.