Civil Liberties

The Investigatory Powers Bill will tell the police you read this blog


The mainstream media is full of stories of checks and balances, U-turns and climbdowns. The so-called Snooper’s Charter (aka Investigatory Powers Bill) will target only terrorists and extremists, we are told. They might go for paedophiles, too. And maybe rapists. The Bill is imperative to ensuring national security and individual safety; indispensable to the agencies of government and law enforcement. The state must have the power to snoop on your browsing history or paedophiles will rape our children and Islamists will blow us all up. It’s as simple as that.

Oh, there’ll be warrants and judges and courts involved somewhere in the process. At least we are told so. Such ‘independence’ is crucial for the maintenance of our civil liberties and the integrity of liberal democracy: the Home Secretary ought not to discover what sites you visit or what apps you use without a judge decreeing that she may. But Theresa May might just find that a tad inconvenient: the police must be free to investigate, and so they must be given the powers they deem necessary to pursue their investigation. Far easier if politicians and police may spy on our browsing history. And if them, why not the local council and HMRC? And if them, why not schools, hospitals, doctors’ surgeries, social workers, banks and employers? Is there not a plethora of legitimate reasons to check the online life of the cyber-individual?

The government doesn’t want to know what underwear you buy from Mark & Spencer or what potatoes you prefer from Tesco. But they will be very interested indeed in the prescription drugs you purchase from online chemists; the fertiliser you buy for your garden; the acid you need to unblock a drain; the video games you allow your children to play; the sex sites you visit; the emails you send, and the networks of relationships you form in the Blogosphere. And God help you if you’re an investigative journalist pursuing a story of corruption in the police or collusion in Parliament. You will be spied on, harassed and ultimately silenced.

It seems that all internet companies will be obliged by statute to store all your browsing data for a year (or more), even un-encrypted, to facilitate the surveillance agencies of the state. And that’ll be safe and secure, won’t it? No question at all that bored teenagers might be able to hack into the impregnable servers of a communications giant like, say, TalkTalk.

But here’s the thing. David Cameron and Theresa May are not only concerned with Islamists and paedophiles, but with all extremists, including non-violent extremists. And they are intent on arresting those pesky non-violent extremists who do not quite break the law. As Theresa May has explained: live in a modern liberal state is not to live in a moral vacuum. We have to stand up for our values as a nation. There will, I know, be some who say that what I describe as extremism is merely social conservatism. But if others described a woman’s intellect as “deficient”, denounced people on the basis of their religious beliefs, or rejected the democratic process, we would quite rightly condemn their bigotry. And there will be others who say I am wrong to link these kinds of beliefs with the violent extremism we agree we must confront. To them I say, yes, not all extremism leads to violence. And not all extremists are violent. But the damage extremists cause to our society is reason enough to act. And there is, undoubtedly, a thread that binds the kind of extremism that promotes intolerance, hatred and a sense of superiority over others to the actions of those who want to impose their values on us through violence.

‘Extremism’ is anything that deviates from the orthodox norms as defined by the ever-self-enlightening state. To teach ‘intolerant’ moral orthodoxy or to advocate for the ‘bigoted’ traditional heterosexual marriage union is now considered ‘extreme’. There is no freedom of religion in the new creed of British values. We must all be normalised: our worldview must be shaped to conform to the new statist ideology. Those who resist are, by definition, ‘extremists’, hell bent on hating the values and precepts of the secular, neutral state, even if they remain within the law. Those who peddle hatred are ‘cult leaders’, according to David Cameron, who appears to define ‘cult’ as any group that demurs (even non-violently) from the values of the state.

So, Christian non-violent extremists beware. Your non-violent visits to the non-violent Archbishop Cranmer blog will soon be monitored, recorded and stored for a year (or more), and may be acquired by politicians and/or the police and given in evidence against you in a court of law. Criminalising Christians is imperative to destroying the Caliphate.