Here’s my letter to the Evening Standard yesterday, where I explain the problem with surveillance laws and how to minimise their harm (in 200 words as required by their letters editor)
This letter was published in the London Evening Standard on January 12th, 2015:
I watch with alarm as, in the wake of the barbaric murders in France, politicians seek increased surveillance powers for the security services.
Surveillance is not always wrong; far from it, our democracy has long allowed accountable public servants to temporarily intrude on individuals they believe to be a threat.
My alarm arises for two reasons:
- The powers requested in recent attempts at new law are open-ended and ill-defined. They lack meaningful oversight, transparency or accountability. They appear designed to permit the security services free rein in making their own rules and retrospectively justifying their actions.
- The breadth of data gathered – far beyond the pursuit of individuals – creates a risk of future abuse, by both (inevitable) bad actors and people responding to future moral panic. Today’s justifications – where offered – make no accommodation for…
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