Richard Barrett Op-Ed in The Telegraph: For the British Public, Collective Security Comes Above Individual Privacy
July 14, 2015
By: Richard Barrett
Commissioned by Nick Clegg, the then Deputy Prime Minister, in March last year following the revelations of Edward Snowden, the Independent Surveillance Review published its report today on the adequacy of the legal framework governing the interception by the police and intelligence agencies of private communications over the internet.
Its findings, though thoughtful, are in many ways unremarkable, and echo the earlier reports of the Intelligence and Security Committee published in March, and of the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, David Anderson QC, which came out in June. Like these, it recommends an overhaul of current legislation, which is both overcomplicated and inadequate as it lags behind developments in communications technology, and it joins the debate about the division of responsibility between the judiciary and the executive in authorising intrusion by the agencies into people’s private lives.
But behind the technical recommendations lies the broader debate about the correct balance between individual privacy and collective security. The report expresses some surprise at the levels of public apathy towards this fundamental issue of democracy, and suggests that the complexity of the laws might have something to do with it. But it seems more likely that overall, the British public, like their American counterparts, accept that the risk of government officials creeping on their Facebook page is a reasonable price to pay if they are doing the same to aspiring terrorists…
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