» clarence willcock ¦ What You Can Get Away With

I suspect that sometime in the next few years, we’re all going to become heartily sick of the words ‘red line’ in relation to politics. But, while we wait for a better short description of ‘things the Government would do that would make me want to pull my party out of it and reconsider my position were they to remain in while such a policy was enacted’, here comes one of my red line issues:

The government is to revive a plan to store every email, webpage visit and phone call made in the UK, a move that goes against a pledge made by the Liberal Democrats ahead of the election.

The interception modernisation programme, proposed under Labour, would require internet service providers to retain data about how people have used the internet, and for phone networks to record details about phone calls, for an unspecified period.

The government says police and security services would be able to access that data if they could demonstrate it was to prevent a “terror-related” crime.

No. Just no. In the words of Clarence Willcock, we’re liberals, we’re against this sort of thing, and I cannot see how we can be part of a Government that wants to do it.

There’s a small ray of light in the fact that the Guardian couldn’t drum up a Minister or Government MP to give them a favourable quote on this, which makes me hope this policy of the last Government has lingered around like a bad aroma, with certain civil servants pushing it on with a combination of the sunk costs fallacy and ‘those who have nothing to hide will have nothing to fear’, but it’s a small hope. Especially when there’s no quote from Labour (you know, the party Ed Miliband said would support civil liberties) opposing it, but I guess expecting a Shadow Home Office team of Ed Balls and Phil Woolas to speak out against this would be a real triumph of hope over experience.

In short, no. Do not do this, do not allow this to happen, and certainly do not remain part of a Government that pushes this through.

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