While writing in this space very recently, I have commented on Edward Snowden’s negative reaction to a recent British legislative. In a related piece, columnist Carlie Brooker opines in the Guardian how the law may ruin your life. Even the acronym, DRIP, connotes a downer, but it stands for Data Retention and Investigatory Powers. As we reported earlier, it is seemingly being rushed into law on a fast-track scheme, perhaps to deprive meaningful opposition to be mounted. Among those expressing outrage are the UK Pirate Party and Labour MP Tom Watson. However, their voices are more than drowned out by heavyweight politicians from all sides-including David Cameron, Edward Miliband and Nick Clegg.
Brooks believes that perhaps the bill will pass because it has not aroused people’s passions- that it is boring and folks may be tired of internet privacy issues. It has not, however, evaded the scrutiny or the ire of columnists or British civil liberties groups who have taken the time to read the fine print. For them there is skepticism about the government’s claims that the bill is a stop-gap needed in response to April’s European Court of Justice ruling, and that it will not increase the powers of the surveillance agencies. But the author thinks that indifference to the pending legislation is unwise and done at the peril of the public.
Brooks uses much tongue-in-cheek to mask his outrage, but the nuts and bolts of the law bode more oversight on the ordinary citizen. It will require, among other things, that companies are more compliant with government requests for information-including overseas companies. Also internet and telecom firms will be required to build interception capabilities into their products and infrastructure.
In the US, national security is often touted as a fallback position for politicians when all else fails. That and waving the flag. In the UK, however, the terms pedophiles and terrorists seem to resonate most with the populace and are thus employed by the bill’s supporters to gain traction. As a result of trumpeting these popular themes, the measure has gained cross-party support. It may be that they’ve seized upon a solution to other government problems- just flail at the paedophiles and the terrorists.
In his article the writer chides the average person for letting the government run roughshod over their rights. It is all too easy, he admonishes, to take the position that, “Hey, I don’t mind if the government wants to spy on me- I’ve got nothing to hide.” There may come a time when, innocently enough, your connection to collected and stored data may become relevant. Though the language in the law may be dry and boring, the fact that it is being rammed through the parliament at break-neck speed is cause for alarm. If the public doesn’t raise the hue-and-cry, it may become innocuous and its governmental representatives merely rubber stamps.