Home Secretary Jacqui Smith has made clear the intention of the government to press ahead with proposals to collect data concerning people’s phone calls, email, and web-browsing habits because somehow that information will lead to catching terrorists doing something. Her proposal is part of a giant “Big Brother” database which would hold information about every phone call or internet activity of each citizen in the UK. The idea has led to considerable head shaking by those who are already concerned about one foul up after another by the British government in losing data or having it accessed by unauthorized individuals. Lord Carlile told the media, “as a raw idea it is awful” although he later noted there might be some justification in particular cases.
Shami Chakrabarti if the human rights group, Liberty, said, “this is another example of the Government’s obsession with gathering as much information on each of us as possible in case it might prove useful in the future.” he saw scant evidence gathering the information would lead to capturing or preventing terrorists from striking.
In so many examples of these efforts to “protect” the public, the invariable outcome is debasing the rights of individuals on grounds that in so doing the bad people will be prevented from being bad.