It is much more important to know what sort of patient has a disease than what sort of disease a patient has - Sir William Osler
UK HOME SECRETARY Theresa May has resumed her call for a snoopers' charter, citing fear of terrorism and concern for public safety.
The home secretary and UK government chew the snooper's charter and a more comprehensive grasp over UK people and their communications like dogs maul cowhide toys. Often the snoopers' charter is on her lips, and often it is opposed, but May keeps gnawing at it.
May said that terrorists, new and old, intend to harm the UK and its people and that technology puts punters at real risk of assault. Naturally then, she concluded, something must be done.
"We are living more of our lives online, using an array of new technology. This is hugely liberating and a great opportunity for economic growth, but this technology has become essential not just to the likes of you and me but to organised criminals and terrorists. Far from having some fictitious mastery over all this technology we, in democratic states, face the significant risk of being caught out by it," she said.
"Governments have always reserved the power to monitor communications and to collect data about communications when it is necessary and proportionate to do so."
However, governments that have basked in this power have felt it limited recently, we assume post-Snowden and post the revelation that communications are gutted and fixed with pins by the authorities caused this. May said that something, and it looks like she means personal liberty, must change.
"It is much harder now - there is more data, we do not own it and we can no longer always obtain it. I know some people will say 'hurrah for that' - but the result is that we are in danger of making the internet an ungoverned, ungovernable space, a safe haven for terrorism and criminality," she said.
"The state is finding it harder to fulfil its most basic duty, which is to protect the public. That is why I have said before and I will go on saying that we need to make changes to the law to maintain the capabilities we need... We must keep on making the case until we get the changes we need."
The home secretary expects opposition, but ultimately asked that the government be granted unlimited surveillance authority. Otherwise, she warned, the UK faces "grave danger".
The Liberal Democrats, the other half of the UK's coalition government, oppose the snoopers' charter.
While the UK is accused of snooping on everyone and everything, May denied this strongly. She said that the government works hard to ensure privacy and security. We've heard different, but May reckons that the other version is a load of bunk.
"It is fair to conclude that this government has performed well in preserving individual freedom while defending our national security. But you might not believe that if you listen to some of the things that are said in the debate about privacy and security," she said.
"There is no programme of mass surveillance and there is no surveillance state. Surveillance of this nature would be illegal, and I only ever sign warrants for limited and specific proposals... The very idea that we could or would want to monitor everyone and all their communications, trawling at will through their private lives, is absurd."
Loz Kaye, the leader of the UK Pirate Party cited a couple of reasons why May's claims should be doubted.
"Yet again Theresa May is trying to open the door to bring back the snoopers' charter. Despite her claiming it is 'fictitious', we now know thanks to Snowden that the UK has an unprecedented ability to carry out mass surveillance," he said.
[She] suggests that the internet is an ungoverned place. That is obviously nonsense. Try telling that to Richard O'Dwyer, Paul Chambers or Peter Sunde... Far from protecting us, mass surveillance dismantles the very freedoms this government claims to be upholding. This is not abstract as she claims, it is a real danger for our democracy." µ
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