Sunday, 9 June 2013

Search William Hague's House, He Might Have Something To Hide

It's just a suggestion. After all, if William Hague, our weird-voiced-slap-head-failed-Tory-leader Foreign Secretary, has nothing to fear, he couldn't possibly object to the police rummaging through his private possessions. Or indeed those of his family. Could he? I mean, if it's okay to randomly trawl people's phone records and emails looking for badness, then randomly searching people's homes is equally good, if not better. After all, it's in their actual homes that all the baddies keep their guns and bombs and drugs and stuff, not on their iPhones! Am I right?

The argument that only those with something to hide need fear having their private conservations or emails scrutinised by unaccountable (i.e. reporting to a handful of dodgy politicians) state bureaucrats is extraordinary, and revealing. It's the logic of the Stasi, the KGB, and the Gestapo. The right to a private life for the individual is casually denied by dictatorships in the interests of 'security', of course. But it so happens that in the EU, which is where we are, the right to a private life is guaranteed by law.

Respect for correspondence

Everyone has the right to uninterrupted and uncensored communication with others – a right particularly of relevance in relation to phone-tapping; email surveillance; and the reading of letters.

How soon before the rightist rhetoric starts, telling us that the evil EU is helping terrorists by trying to protect people's privacy? And of course we'll hear about all the terrorist crimes thwarted by the security services - well, we won't, because we have to take it on trust that they are doing anything at all to protect us. Oh, it's not true, like most 'hate Europe' stuff; the treaty in question does allow the state to spy on people for reasons of national security. Or, more precisely:
...in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.
That 'protection of health or morals' leaps out for some reason. I approve of MI5 intercepting orders for takeaway pizzas if they come from the clinically obese. As for morals, MI5 breaking into a call from some creep to his girlfriend to tell her that 'he went and shagged that minger Shanice last night, so just dump him love' would seem a perfectly valid use of taxpayers' money.

Apart from anything else, it might give them something to do. I mean, do they fight terrorism with ruthless efficiency, or just sort of vaguely thrash about and hope the baddies trap themselves through sheer incompetence? Who knows? We're certainly not allowed to. If there are no terrorist bombings, it's because the spooks have done a great job. Give 'em some more money! If there are terrorist bombings, it's because they're under-funded and overworked. Give 'em some more money! Win-win situation for the MI5 boys and girls, methinks.

It doesn't matter if they're utterly lazy and incompetent, because - for all practical purposes - nothing can be done to bring them to book for their failings. And they can find out whatever they damn well like about anyone, apparently. Let's hope the spooks are not as keen to flog information as some police officers have been.

2 comments:

  1. Assuming that phonetapping etc is allowed, on the basis that those who have nothing to hide have nothing to fear:

    Those who have something to hide have something to fear.
    If they are not accused, they're happy. Spies did their job so they're happy. 1-1; neutral outcome.
    If they are accused, their fears have come true. Spies did their job so they're happy. 0-1 to the spies, and those who lose are actual criminals who accepted an element of risk was part of the deal.

    Those who have nothing to hide have nothing to fear.
    If they are not accused, they're happy. Spies did their job so they're happy. 0-1 to the spies.
    If they are accused, they're wronged. Spies did their job so they're happy. 0-1 to the spies, and those who lose are innocent people who took no risks and lose much more.

    Either way makes no difference at all to the spies, but the risks are far greater for those who have nothing to hide. OK, so the other way means some criminals, including terrorists, won't get caught. But given that there are likely to be many more false positives than false negatives (because the percentage of criminals is much lower than innocent people; cf medical tests), the cost is very much worse than the gain.

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  2. Exactly - better put than I managed. Spies are happy spying on everyone and can't be trusted to set security policy. But in effect they do because every politician who gets a whiff of power 'goes native' and rejects the basic contention that upholding freedom is more important than catching criminals. Gits.

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