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)