In the end, though, these two officials [Ken MacDonald QC, former Director of Public Prosecutions, and Jacqui Smith, Home Secretary] are ranged on opposite sides of a fundamental argument.
If you believe it is reasonable for the state to maintain a permanent database, holding details about everyone’s communications; if you believe that the state has a good record of safeguarding individual databases on benefits, health and the military; and if you are confident that Britain’s anti-terrorist laws will never be used for other purposes, then you will support Ms Smith’s planned bill.
And you are naive or mad.
If, on the other hand, you agree with articles four, eight and nine of the European convention on human rights, or with the US fourth amendment, or even if you simply think that Britain’s creeping surveillance society has got to be reined in before it is too late, then you will respond to Sir Ken’s warning and insist that, as with 42-day detention without trial, this new degradation of our freedoms is one that parliament must never allow to pass. As the prime minister so succinctly put it: which side are you on?
I agree with the sentiment but I’m not sure the majority of people could name articles 4 (although I’m not sure what slavery has to do with this, I think the Guardian meant article 5, right to liberty, which includes habeas corpus) 8 (privacy) and 9 (freedom of thought, conscience and religion), or tell you what the Fourth Amendment says (right against unreasonable search and seizures).
Anyway, good stuff.