I was kindly given a hard copy of the Draft Communications Bill, the Snoopers Charter, yesterday evening by the inestimable Dr Jenny Woods. A brief review of the contents suggest four main problems: the foreword, the beginning, the middle, and the end.
Yes, it’s that bad. As a first reaction, here’s a key point from each section to highlight the authoritarian, statist thread running through the document. Read more
Two points I particularly like in Nick Clegg’s interview with Julian Huppert regarding the hacking inquiry:
Powerful people going in front of a select committee shouldn’t be seen as unusual, and we need to see it more often. The world often improves through incremental change and slides back down slippery slopes. Waiting for a crisis before asking hard questions of powerful people is quite literally a recipe for disaster.
Wilful blindness is an important theme. It can be a very difficult thing to judge, but we shouldn’t let that be an excuse for not insisting on good, demonstrable governance in both public and private sector.
The reason these points are so important is that without conducting such activities as a matter of routine, they become events. That leads naturally to excuses such as “this is just hysteria” from one side, and a presumption of guilt on the other. People become fearful of asking questions in case it ends up destroying their career, instead of insisting on asking them as an essential part of their work.
The Lib Dems will hopefully keep such issues at the forefront of the inquiries. They speak directly to liberal values. Good governance isn’t necessarily about compliance, at least not in the sense of obedience to authority and checklists. Even in a corporate context, it can be about challenging fear, conformity and ignorance (not quite the constitution but close!).