The UK has just passed The Investigatory Powers Bill. It will become law once it receives the Royal assent – a formality.
It enables a wide range of public bodies to access the records of every person in the UK who connects to the internet. Internet service providers are obliged to keep a record of every site that their users access over the past year.
It’s the modern equivalent of the authorities accessing the record of the library books that a person borrowed.
I am not concerned with whether the authorities can access a person’s predilections for pop music or porn, prison breakouts or paedophilia.
I am, however, concerned that a Government or its agencies can access the records of interesting people. By that I mean that GCHQ could construct an algorithm that splits people into two camps.
There are those people who are interested in trivia – in the diversions of life – and little else. A Government can ignore those people – they aren’t going to object to much of anything.
And then there are a smaller number of people who have a broad range of interests. With the Investigatory Powers Bill the Government will know who its ‘thinking’ opposition is.
Of course, it is not this Government I am worried about. This Government is fair and open. But a more fascist government. If that came to pass they would have all the tools they needed to weed out the potential opposition.
Ah, but this is far fetched. Except that it has happened in other countries.
It can always happen here.