Tories divided over UK spying bill, Home Secretary dismisses critics as "conspiracy theorists" who want to protect freedom for "criminals, terrorists and paedophiles"

The UK Conservative party is embroiled in a public internal squabble as its libertarian wing contemplates the "snoopers' charter," a proposed warrantless Internet spying bill that will require ISPs to store fantastic amounts of your online activity and make it accessible to police and government without a warrant, at a cost of billions of pounds that the ISPs can bill the government for. The Tories fought a nearly identical proposal from Labour in the last parliament. Home Secretary Theresa May has dismissed critics of the bill as "conspiracy theorists" who are unaccountably exercised over trivia like accountability, judicial review, and the principle of surveillance being limited to people who have done something suspicious. She says that these freedoms are only of use to "criminals, terrorists and paedophiles."

Alan Travis writes in The Guardian:

May dismissed critics of the new powers, which will allow police and intelligence services to track Facebook, Twitter, email and other web use, as "conspiracy theorists". She defended the 550,000 individual requests for data each year made by security officials as a vital tool to catch serious criminals and terrorists.

She told the Sun: "I just don't understand why some people might criticise these proposals. I have no doubt conspiracy theorists will come up with some ridiculous claims about how these measures are an infringement of freedom. But without changing the law, the only freedom we would protect is that of criminals, terrorists and paedophiles..."

"It's not content, but it's incredibly intrusive," [former Conservative shadow home secretary, David] Davis told BBC Radio 4's Today programme. "If they really want to do things like this – and we all accept they use data to catch criminals – get a warrant. Get a judge to sign a warrant, not the guy at the next desk, not somebody else in the same organisation."

38 Degrees has an online petition to stop the proposal, which stands at over 164,000 right now.

'Snoopers' charter' proposal sparks Tory row

(Image: Home Secretary meets police in South London, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from 49956354@N04's photostream)


  1. “Metropolitan police commissioner, Bernard Hogan-Howe … said having greater powers to access data was essential to waging a “total war on crime” ”

    Nuke us from orbit, it’s the only way to be sure.

    All solutions have costs, and the most complete solutions will have the highest costs. All decisions should be made with some concept of the costs and benefits.

    Why is this hard for politicians to understand or sell to the public?

  2. Will Ms May be willing to make publicly available all information about herself that would be accessible to the government without a warrant should this bill pass?

    If not, is she a criminal, a terrorist, or a pedophile? After all, the innocent have nothing to hide, right?

    1. Also, I trust she’ll be removing all draperies and blinds from the windows on her home.  After all, as she’s not a criminal, terrorist, or pedophile, she surely has nothing to hide.

  3. “Labour have subjected Britain’s historic freedoms to unprecedented attack. They have trampled on liberties and, in their place, compiled huge databases to track the activities of millions of perfectly innocent people, giving public bodies extraordinary powers to intervene in the way we live our lives. The impact of this has been profound and farreaching. Trust has been replaced by suspicion. The database state is a poor substitute for the human judgement essential to the delivery of public services. Worse than that, it gives people false comfort that an infallible central state is looking after their best interests. but the many scandals of lost data, leaked documents and database failures have put millions at risk. it is time for a new approach to protecting our liberty.”

    Invitation to Join the Government of Britain: Conservative Manifesto 2010

    David Davis aside, they’re all totally worthless on this issue.

    1. “Trust has been replaced by suspicion.” just as it has with all the CRB etc. checks. Why do I have to prove my innocence? If I am obliged to, I am no longer a private citizen.

    2. David Davis is among those very few in Parliament that actually ‘gets’ technology.

      Why he remains a Conservative is beyond me, but we’re certainly lucky to have him at the moment.

      1. We need people who believe in the protection of privacy and freedom on all sides of the political spectrum. It’s that important. In Canada, it’s up to the Conservatives who haven’t completely lost their mind who can prevent us from going down a similar path of perpetual government surveillance on our daily lives.

  4. Considering that the Government recently decided not to release the “risk assessment” of the NHS reforms, you wonder what terrorists and criminals they are trying to shield.  (Oh, wait, I think I just answered that question for myself…)

    1.  Yep.  I think it’s pretty obvious at this point who the “criminals, terrorists and paedophiles” are.  It s classic misdirection;  hiding at the very center of the pan-opticon.

  5. each time i hear news out of britain it’s a step closer to ‘children of men’.  a great movie but not really a great future.

  6. The PM is also defending himself with “conspiracy” accusations today.  From the BBC:

    ‘David Cameron has accused Gordon Brown of “cooking up” a “specious and unjustified conspiracy theory” about a deal between the Conservatives and media group News International.’

    1.  It was interesting, and pleasing to hear, Leveson respond to that use of the word “conspiracy” and choosing to dismiss it, using a more neutral term to replace it.

      Politicians think we’re idiots – they hope to fool the most uninformed and use those uniformed persons’ complicit, but ignorant, rantings to create a momentum to help create the impression of substance and agreement with their nonsensical bullshit.

      It’s what “talking points” are all about.

  7. What’s depressing about this whole war on crime nonsense is that crime in the developed world is already at historic lows.

    Unless you count corruption.

    But they’re not interested in stopping that.

  8. I wouldn’t call it a conspiracy.  That’s credits these people with more intelligence than I believe they have.

    Power grab.  That’s the right term.

  9. What is it about people like Theresa May who are more concerned with getting the bad guy rather than serving the good guys? Why are  they blind to the fact that their intentions, as well-meaning as they might be, have to be implemented as policy on a systemic level and, by their very nature, invite abuse? Pure egotism I suppose. Makes me want to slap that fucking smile right off of her face.

    1. A putative bad guy is a potential trophy you can parade before the public, another notch in your stick. It appeals to simple minds and provides the fear factor which gets everybody all excited, as all dictatorships know.

  10. Someone better go update Vic Toews wiki page, as it says he is from Paraguay. Clearly he has some relatives across the pond as well…

  11. Let us all congratulate the terrorists. Every new piece of alarmist, totalitarian  legislation passed by “free” nations around the world is another victory for them… and they’ve barely even needed to leave their houses for the past decade! We’re doing all the work for them.

  12. it always starts with ‘its for your safety or its to save the children’ but then it grows out of control and when it goes horribly wrong theres no one that has to take resposibility for the mistakes and if a law suit is won in the end its the taxpayer that ultimately pays for the error and the pigs just shrug and go on

  13. She’s wearing a futuristic top but hasn’t learned any lessons from science fiction warnings about false utopias? Someone drop off a copy of Aeon Flux, quick.

  14. The only terrorists she is going to reach with this law is new national terrorists, normal people who become more and more disgusted with their own country and the growing levels of obvious corruption in the puppet government. you reap what you sow.

  15. I wonder if they would be allowed to systematically open regular (paper) mail. The fact is they rely on the fact that laymen haven’t clear exactly what the Internet is.

  16. Funny how politicians always seem to accuse the opposition of the exact shit they are actually pulling.

    I mean YOU wanna spend 2 billion pounds, in a recession no less, on checking out EVERYONE’S e-mail and other digital communications because you believe that you are in fact surrounded by terrorists, criminals and child pornographers…

    …but WE are the paranoid conspiracy theorists for suggesting that this might be a little bit overboard.

    You wanna know what kinda shit your rep is pulling? Just look at what he is accusing others of doing. Really, once you start noticing this you’ll see that it is everywhere.

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