Select Page

Snooper’s Charter: Why It’s Bollocks

Snooper’s Charter: Why It’s Bollocks

The Snooper’s Charter Won’t Make Us Safer. It Could Make Things Worse.

I could have used a politer title for this post, but I didn’t feel like it. I didn’t feel like it because ‘bollocks’ is just one of the many appropriate words that accurately sums up the Investigatory Powers Bill, or colloquially, the Snooper’s Charter.

The issue, as the government sees it, is that all sorts of nefarious people – mostly terrorists, but some others – are using the Internet for their evil schemes. The government feels that while they can talk anonymously, and get up to no good online, then we’re all in danger.

The only reasonable solution to this problem is mass surveillance!

Except, it’s not, is it? In fact, as solutions go it is actually pretty fucking atrocious. The Snooper’s Charter is a good Conservative policy, of course. Back in the 1980’s, when Mary Whitehouse, a woman who I’m pretty sure farted dust from her vagina whenever she coughed, decided to stir up a moral panic against depraved movies such as the brilliant The Evil Dead and the absolute horseshit of Island of Death, the Conservatives jumped right on-board that and sentenced us to censorship. You know, because us common, non-Eton educated troglodytes are too fucking stupid to discern fiction from reality.

Back to the topic… the Snooper’s Charter: this isn’t going to work, and even a non-Eton educated stupid fucking troglodyte like me can tell you why. Because it’ll force the terrorists offline. Currently, terrorists, and other crooks, do what they do online because they’ve bought into the myth that the Internet provides anonymity. It doesn’t, of course, but their belief that it does plays right into the hands of security agencies.

And even those who realise that there is an inherent risk with scheming and plotting on the Internet still believe they’re safe. Like the twenty-a-day smoker who thinks that lung cancer is something that will happen to other people, they come to believe that they won’t be the one that gets caught. While there exists that sense of faux-invulnerability, they’ll continue to operate online and they’ll make mistakes when doing so.

But if they know that all their actions are to be recorded, and that security agencies will definitely be scanning through that data, then they’ll take their business offline and then it will be harder to track them… unless, of course, one was to start inserting listening devices into everybody’s home but we’re not going to advocate that, right?

You see, the IRA didn’t need the Internet when they went around bombing Manchester, Omagh, Canary Wharf etc. The Irgun didn’t need the Internet when they struck against the British Empire and bombed the King David Hotel in Jerusalem. What they needed was an idea, and the determination to carry out their actions. We can, of course, argue that presently the current threat are nowhere near as organised as the IRA, and it would be a fair argument, but it doesn’t prevent them from becoming so. In fact, one could make the argument that if we destroy the simplicity with which they currently communicate, we will force them to become more organised and thus much more of a danger.

The government argue that the Snooper’s Charter will somehow make things easier for security agencies to do their job. I argue that it will make things much more difficult. It might limit the number of individuals who engage in recruitment and radicalisation, and it might initially slow down the number of people becoming involved with such groups but it won’t stop them, and will in fact make it harder to identify them.

Mass surveillance, at a cost of potentially billions to store zettabytes or more of data is not the answer. The answer is using those funds to better educate and train security staff to identify the real threats, to infiltrate the online places these people are to be found where they feel safe and then work on bringing them down. The quick-fix solution of the Snooper’s Charter is anything but, and  could potentially place us in more danger.

Now, I’m not against a well-thought out programme of surveillance. If you read the last paragraph, I’ve advocated for it. But that surveillance needs to be direct, with purpose and not some catch-all where a person is judged by their browsing history to be guilty until proven innocent. The guilty will simply adapt, as they always have.

And when the terrorists are offline, to justify the existence of this system, the government will have to target other users. Recently, because of the Conservative hatred of all things sexual, the Tories banned the act of facesitting in British produced pornography. Apparently, it’s potentially life-threatening… unless someone with the constitution of Jabba the Hut is the giver in this scenario, or the Tories are far more sexually adventurous than I would give them credit for, it’s not any more life-threatening than walking up and down the stairs (Fact: More people die in the UK each year from falling down the stairs than from either facesitting or terrorism).

So without the terrorists to target, perhaps they’ll just target people who view pornography online featuring facesitting? Why not? If it’s illegal to film it, then it might as well be illegal to watch it. And then we’ve just criminalised something like 80% of pornography viewers. At least the fines will pay for the system, right?

I wouldn’t go so far as to say the government is lying about their real reason for wanting to introduce mass surveillance but I think questions need to be asked. Judging by the SNP and Labour showing a complete lack of backbone during tonight’s second reading, we can’t rely on them to ask those questions.

It could be suggested that access to information that would allow for electorate profiling would be of a huge political advantage to a ruling government. It could also be argued that knowing each person’s online viewing habits and the general passivity and acceptance among the British populace on matters of censorship could allow the government to better tailor their pro-censorship policies for maximum effect. After all, too few in this country seem to defend their civil liberties when there’s a moral panic to combat, and a government willing to ride in to rescue us, like some sort of overbearing Lone Ranger.

One could even put forth the case that a population that will agree to such a ridiculous, ineffective and dangerous proposal solely through fear, probably won’t care about any future steps against civil liberties the government might take in future. All those dystopian novels and films – 1984, Brazil, V for Vendetta, they might become more real than you could imagine. And the sad thing is, we’re apparently asking for that.

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Before the Dawn’s Light

Hidden Horror

Recent Tweets

Movie Reviews