Guy Herbert on Freedom

Guy Herbert of Samizdata fame on Freedom, in today’s Guardian, here.

A taster:

The Home Office is taking the maximum powers allowed under the directive – which shouldn’t be a surprise, as the directive itself was inspired by lobbying from Charles Clarke in the council of ministers when he was home secretary. The minimum six months’ retention is probably what we will see in Germany, which resisted the exercise; the Home Office is taking powers for four times as long.

All this is the logical pursuit of the path set out in the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, and most of the debate is founded on the false premise that this was a special anti-terrorist power that somehow got out of hand when councils started using it to pursue litterers. It just isn’t true. RIPA was always a snooper’s charter, as the Guardian noted at the time. Its function is to provide a bureaucratic mechanism by which hundreds of different official bodies from MI5 to Ofcom can authorise their staff to use surveillance. It is purposely obscure and hard to challenge.


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