Sunday, 28 July 2013

Don't tell anyone I said so, but . . .

I did think of adding my twopennyworth by simply commenting on either (or both) of Suldog's or Skip's blogs (I put them in that order because that is the order in which they were posted) but my second thought was, "What the heck!  I'll take a chance.  The Communications Data Bill isn't law yet.  Is it?"  Anyway, even if it is, I am still living in a country where freedom of speech is accepted as the norm.  For a little while longer.

The bill, if enacted, will compel ISPs to store details of electronic communications such as visits to web sites, emails and mobile phone conversations, the details being retained for a year and accessible to the police (some say with no need for a warrant) in order to fight cybercrime.  Or that is what we are told.  Numerous other Government agencies and departments also wanted to have access to the information: the National Health Service, fire authorities, the Food Standards Agency.  And if them, why not Uncle Tom Cobley and all?

Of course, we are assured that if we are not exchanging plans for blowing up Tower Bridge or similar, then we have nothing to worry about.  As if anybody planning to blow up Tower Bridge would say so in plain language.  But that is not the point.  I certainly don't want any Tom, Dick or Harry, even if he is a police officer, to be able to access my private conversations or correspondence.  Such a law would, I suggest, be but the first step towards George Orwell's vision in 1984.  What would be next?  The power to listen in to conversations on landlines?  Opening my post?  Government control of newspapers?

And that's not entirely facetious.  It was discovered that certain newspapers had been hacking into the telephone conversations of newsworthy people and, as a result, many members of Parliament have called for what amounts to the first stage of state control of the press.

Fortunately, the Communications Data Bill has been dropped by the Government, although there have been calls for it to be reborn, and so far the newspapers have managed to avoid what those MPs have been calling for.

We have no written constitution in the UK so freedom of speech is not enshrined in paper in the same way as in other countries and I doubt if Magna Carta could be called upon as protection against things like to Communications Data Bill.  We need to remain vigilant.


You could almost be forgiven for thinking this is a picture of the Place du Tertre in Montmartre.  In fact, it's East Street, Brighton.

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