This morning, Theresa May has been getting more than a little hysterical in the press. This time it’s on the subject of the Government’s proposed mass surveillance bill, the Communications Data Bill, more popularly (and accurately) known as the “Snoopers Charter”. It’s always easy to tell when there are issues that ministers would rather you didn’t dig deeper into; they resort to hyperbole and dire warnings – in May’s case she is quoted as saying “Anybody who is against this bill is putting politics before people’s lives“. This is, of course, utter nonsense.
A Joint Committee has rightly spent a huge amount of time hearing and reading evidence on this proposed Bill – all the evidence is available to read here: http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/joint-select/draft-communications-bill/publications/ – so it is interesting that May is making so much fuss before the Committee has even published its report. Given the number of witnesses called and the time and effort – not to mention public funds – expended on this committee, you would expect a responsible minister to wait and see the end product before making her mind up.
Oddly enough, if anyone should be getting hysterical about this bill it is the general public. This bill, if enacted, will result in a mass surveillance programme of which China would be proud. Never before will so much information be tracked on every man, woman and child in the UK. And yet, in the newspapers what do we see? A cabinet minister trying to scare up public support using hyperbole and nonsense. Perhaps she’s concerned that if the public discover the real impact this will have on them, she’d have more luck finding turkeys in favour of xmas.
I would recommend reading one or two of Paul Bernal’s excellent blogposts on this subject. I agree with his assessments in full, so little point writing my own. There are other links below with more information should you want it.
Paul has produced a simple Venn diagram however (left), which summarises the situation nicely as well as a lovely Dr. Seuss inspired rhyme.
Links to more information