I woke up on Sunday, ready for the usual April 1st stories in the newspapers. I checked out the Telegraph and thought I spotted an early one...
Internet activity 'to be monitored' under new laws
Ministers are preparing a major expansion of the Government's powers to monitor the email exchanges and website visits of every person in the UK, it was reported today
Under legislation expected in next month's Queen's Speech, internet companies will be instructed to install hardware enabling GCHQ – the Government's electronic "listening" agency – to examine "on demand" any phone call made, text message and email sent, and website accessed in "real time".
Monday morning arrives and the story is still there. This piece wasn't the conjured up by the fertile imagination of a bored journalist. The government want the unrestrained power to monitor everything we write and say online.
The justification is, of course, terrorism. This is how an anonymous government spokesperson explained it:
"It is vital that police and security services are able to obtain communications data in certain circumstances to investigate serious crime and terrorism and to protect the public. We need to take action to maintain the continued availability of communications data as technology changes."
At this stage in the post, I am tempted to go through a long discussion about why this proposal is a grave threat to our ancient liberties. However, I wonder whether it is worth the effort. Do we really need to explain why the government should not have unrestricted access to our phone calls and email? Either we, as a people, value our freedoms and shout out a collective deafening NO. Or we roll over and meekly accept the consequences of this offensive initiative.
There are days when I wake up and fear for the future of this country. Today was one of those days.