Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Powertrip for... freedom

With a speed that surpassed several times the W. Bush administration's post-9/11 expediency in demanding more powers for the intelligence and security agencies, David Cameron has firmly demanded the same...

The logic, coming from the same PM who at the start of his first term has vowed and indeed proceeded to undo many of the former Tony Blair regime's attacks on civil liberties, on privacy and even basic human rights, is the same as ever...

More information means, in the familiar thought process, more security... more protection against potential extremist attacks. We heard this before, numerous times, and this time, too the press is mostly writing about the correct side of equation...

It is obvious, as it was underlined countless times by press, by security experts, by ISPs etc., that the gathering and analysis of the vast amounts of data about potential suspects (or isolating the latter in the ocean of communications stored by ISPs) presents huge technical and analytical problems. These lead to vast human resourcing problems, as MI5 has reported that on average twenty people are needed for a single suspect's surveillance...

What is slightly irritating however: so far the tiny detail about the past cases where there was significant and relevant information in the security forces' possession is not mentioned...

What I am referring to is the series of events ranging from 9/11 itself to Lee Rigby's murder to the perpetrators of the Paris attacks. In the case of all of these events, there were copious amounts of information on the perpetrators, but the various security forces in possession of that information either deemed the suspects harmless, or concluded that there was no risk, or failed to act at all.

Under Cameron's new tirade, that included even a demand to ban certain messaging apps (!), more information will somehow turn this so far statistically frankly ludicrously disturbing trend.

Stalinist snooping of private communication will somehow make the security forces more able to reach the right conclusions and act in time...

As a senior MI5 official stated today, don't give them more information, Mr. Cameron... give them more funding! So far the key problem was not in the realm of what amount and what kind of personal information they held about potential suspects or the public in general...

Only the mentioned speed with which Cameron has reacted in this way is more worrying than the content of his speeches. Before any analysis, any calming of spirits, any lucid investigation of British threat levels could take place, the first and blatantly exploitative emotion-centred reaction from the British Government is that of a resurrection of worst excesses of the Tony Blair regime... and more.

Congratulations again on this exercise in rational thought and, oh yes, democratic freedoms. After all, the latter is what is supposedly being protected by the proposed measures... 

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