So, we have another bill in Parliament to allow the government to spy on us. This one tries to ban end to end encryption, so that should the police or security services need to access your private communications they can do so with out you, or the person you are communicating with knowing about it. Aside from this defeating the point of encryption, it's a lovely side step around the criticism that the government wants to ban strong encryption, the encryption can be as strong as you like as long as it has a hole in the middle where the government can read it. Now as a technical person this riles me, but I am not an encryption expert, so rather than rant about something other people can tell you about far better than I, I'm going to wander off on a different tack.
One of the key defences proponents of this sort of snooping always trot out is the title of this rant, "if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear". This line of thinking is wrong for many reasons, the first assumes that having something to hide is inherently bad, I don't have a live stream 24/7 in my bed room, not because I am doing anything illegal or immoral, but because it is deeply personal and private, I want to hide it from the world because it is for me (and my partner obviously), not that I imagine most of the world would be interested, but if they were they can get lost. So we do ALL have something to hide, and anyone who says differently hasn't thought about it enough. Then there is the fact that even those with nothing to hide (the ones who don't really exist) have nothing to fear, what happens if a disgruntled old acquaintance manages to plant incriminating information in your surveillance stream, you've done nothing wrong, you have no need to hide, but suddenly surveillance reports show you to be an evil man. How do you defend against that? You can't show your records, because the absence of the incriminating data will just show you edited it, which proves you DO have something to hide. The fact that this will all be a massive fabrication won't help much when you are crucified in the media, and dragged through the courts for something you didn't do, and even if you are found innocent, eventually, your life will be ruined, no one you know will ever trust you again. So we do have something to hide, and even if we didn't we do have something to fear.
So far I have stuck with what could happen with a benign government, the fear of lone fraudster with a grudge should be fairly minimal for most of us (not for the one they have a grudge against mind). But what happens when the government decides that in order to cement it's power it shall use those powers it already has to enforce it's rule? What happens when our leaders decide that the BNP are a racist organisation and as such they should be labelled terrorist? Not such a bad thing perhaps? What about the Greens support environmentalism, and are dangerous to the economy, they should also be labelled terrorists? How far are we willing to let our Government go before we put our foot down and say "enough is enough"? I hate to invoke Godwin in any discussion, but do read about the experience of Pastor Martin Niemöller and the poem attributed to him.
I strongly believe that as a people we should not be afraid of our Government, the Government exists to do as we want, to make and enforce the rules we find acceptable, to handle the day to day tedium of running the country so that we may do other more interesting things, to keep the trivial things managed, whilst we consider the important things in life. Our Government is overstepping that mark, they are starting do the things they want, when is enough going to be enough? When are we going to put our foot down?