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David Cameron takes snooping lessons from the telly

Please, someone schedule 1984
Fri Jan 31 2014, 12:16
David Cameron at the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos 2010

THE UK PRIME MINISTER reckons that watching telly has told him a lot of what he knows and thinks is right about government surveillance of mobile communications and internet data traffic.

In a wide ranging discussion hosted by the Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy, Cameron was questioned about all national security concerns, and, he said that there are a lot of them, "from floods to pandemics".

He often cited counter-terrorism, and in response to talks about cuts in the national security budget Cameron said that the UK government has increased its investment in drones. Eventually Edward Snowden and his revelations about government surveillance came up.

Here Cameron expressed some doubt as to whether Brits are as concerned about this as the media have suggested. He added that the media should stop "dallying" with its reports on the disclosures.

He said, "We are in danger of making ourselves less safe as a result [of the reporting]," claiming that the public has the view that the intelligence agencies do intelligent work, and that is "good". It's all online here, in case you are peckish and fancy some waffle.

Loz Kaye, the leader of the UK Pirate Party, was unimpressed with this, and suggested that there is an attention gap somewhere.

"Anyone who argues that we don't have the capability to target communications clearly hasn't been paying attention over the months of the Snowden revelations. What is going on is an attempt to justify the liberties that have been taken without a democratic mandate," he said.

"To blame the media and campaigners for blowing this out of proportion shows how afraid Cameron is of real debate on this subject. The British public are very worried about this issue and will not let it be brushed under the carpet."

Cameron made some attempt to suggest that mass surveillance is fine and dandy because he has seen it on the telly and it works there.

"I love watching, as I probably should stop telling people, crime dramas on the television. There's hardly a crime drama where a crime is solved without using the data of a mobile communications device,"  said the PM, adding that there is increased use of communications channels like Skype.

"If we don't modernise the practice and the law, over time we will have the communications data to solve these horrible crimes on a shrinking proportion of the total use of devices and that is a real problem for keeping people safe."

This did not go down too well with Kaye either.

"Cameron saying we should accept mass surveillance because he likes crime dramas would be laughable if it weren't so chilling," he added. "He needs to learn the difference between fact and fiction. What next? Justifying the badger cull because of The Archers?" µ


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