THE Home Office has quietly adopted a new plan to allow police across Britain routinely to hack into people’s personal computers without a warrant.
The move, which follows a decision by the European Union’s council of ministers in Brussels, has angered civil liberties groups and opposition MPs. They described it as a sinister extension of the surveillance state which drives “a coach and horses” through privacy laws.
The hacking is known as “remote searching”. It allows police or MI5 officers who may be hundreds of miles away to examine covertly the hard drive of someone’s PC at his home, office or hotel room.
“Without a warrant”! This measure should dismiss the notion that New Labour’s state values the citizen’s privacy. Of course sophisticated criminals must be fought effectively but not at the expense of a fundamental liberty.
As in the case of powers of entry, the law is in danger of being an unacceptable mess. There must be clarity, control and audit if our society is not to degenerate into a total surveillance state.
This database would be an unimaginable hell-house of personal private information. It would be a complete readout of every citizen’s life in the most intimate and demeaning detail. No government of any colour is to be trusted with such a roadmap to our souls.
What kind of society do we wish to live in?