This morning’s Observer column.
The relevant extract from the [FISA] court transcript reads:
Justice Arnold: “Well, if this order is enforced, and it’s secret, how can you be hurt? The people don’t know that – that they’re being monitored in some way. How can you be harmed by it? I mean, what’s… what’s your… what’s the damage to your consumer?”
Ponder that for a moment. It’s extraordinarily revealing because it captures the essence of the mindset of the people who now rule our democracies. It’s a variant on the “if you have nothing to hide then you have nothing to fear” mantra. And it begs the question: who gave these people the right to think and act like this?
The long answer goes back a long way – to Thomas Hobbes, John Locke and maybe Rousseau. The short answer is that we did. We elected these holders of high office – the home and foreign secretaries who ostensibly control MI5, MI6 and GCHQ, the MPs who cluelessly voted through laws such as Ripa (Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act), Drip (Data Retention and Investigatory Powers) and will do likewise for whatever loose statutes will be proposed after the next terrorist/paedophilia/cyber crime panic arrives…