Sunday, October 06, 2013

The Lib Dem silence on government interception of electronic communications

Chris Huhne is already giving good value to his old employer, the Guardian. His column in tomorrow's paper is trailed in an article on the front page:
As a cabinet minister and member of the national security council (NSC), Huhne said he would have expected to be told about these operations, particularly as they were relevant to proposed legislation. 
"The cabinet was told nothing about GCHQ's Tempora or its US counterpart, the NSA's Prism, nor about their extraordinary capability to hoover up and store personal emails, voice contact, social networking activity and even internet searches. 
"I was also on the national security council, attended by ministers and the heads of the Secret [Intelligence Service, MI6] and Security Service [MI5], GCHQ and the military. If anyone should have been briefed on Prism and Tempora, it should have been the NSC. ... 
Huhne said Prism and Tempora "put in the shade Tony Blair's proposed ID cards, 90-day detention without trial and the abolition of jury trials".
This last point is an important one. When they were in opposition, the Liberal Democrats were extremely vocal in their opposition to these Labour measures. I spent years writing columns for Liberal Democrat News that poured scorn on them.

But I have heard very little comment from Lib Dems, in the government or outside it, on Edward Snowden's revelations about Tempora and Prism.

Liberal Democrat Voice, to be fair to it, did run some articles on the subject. But the ones from its editorial team, at least, tended to tell us there is not much to worry about.

Why this silence? Let's hope it is soon broken.

While we are waiting, let me recommend an article from yesterday's Guardian. The novelist John Lanchester has already written a good book - Whoops! Why everyone owes everyone and no one can pay - explaining the credit crunch for the lay reader.

Now the Guardian has sent him to New York to study the files that Snowden leaked to the press. They had to send him there because these are the files held on the hard disk that was smashed up in the Guardian's basement by our own government's goons.

Anyway, "The Snowden files: why the British public should be worried about GCHQ" is well worth reading.


Jo Shaw said...

On a similar subject see Joshua Rozenberg's piece from the Grauniad on Friday re open justice:

Joe said...

"When they were in opposition, the Liberal Democrats were extremely vocal in their opposition to these Labour measures."

They were indeed. And to illustrate the point...