MPs condemn Labour’s ‘surveillance society’


THE House of Commons votes on Wednesday on extending the amount of time that the police can hold a ‘terrorist suspect’ without charging them from 28 to 42 days.

Even reactionaries like Lord Goldsmith, who eventually gave the advice to the British government that it would be legal to invade Iraq, with the UN Security Council opposing such an action, have said that they are opposed to the dictatorial measure.

Yesterday it was confirmed that the MI5 secret police have not requested the Brown government to introduce such a measure. It is the Labour Party’s baby!

Even MPs who support the government’s security measures, such as its scheme for a national identity card are warning that Britain is sleep walking into a ‘surveillance society’.

In fact Britain is being pushed into it, by a ruling class that fears for its future.

The National Identity Scheme will hold data on everyone over 16 in Britain.

The House of Commons Home Affairs Committee yesterday insisted that the government should limit the data it collects on citizens for its ID card scheme.

The select committee said about the National Identity Scheme; that ‘It should collect only what is essential, to be stored only for as long as is necessary.’

It said: ‘We are concerned. . . about the potential for “function creep” in terms of the surveillance potential of the national identity scheme.’ It called for ‘proper safeguards’ to stop what it termed ‘function creep’ threatening privacy. This is the tendency for the use of modern security means to expand well beyond what the immediate government aims are said to be. They appear to have a logic of their own!

This group of MPs wants a guarantee that the scheme will not be expanded without the approval of the House of Commons. The Ministry of Justice have responded that it must have full freedom to ‘balance’ protecting the public with protecting basic rights. This means ‘no’.

The MPs report also refers to the loss of two discs containing the personal details of 25 million people last year. You can’t make omelettes without breaking eggs is the response of the government.

The report also urged the government to set up new controls on the National DNA Database to prevent ‘unnecessary invasions of privacy’. This Database already has over three million people on it!

MP Keith Vaz commented: ‘What we are calling for is an overall principle of “least data, for least time”.’

However, what we have is a situation where three million people are on the DNA database, over four million CCTV cameras are now installed in the UK on 24 hour operational duty, electronic traces left by bank transactions, mobile phone calls, the use of oyster and other travel cards are already being monitored, and where the use of cameras and fingerprinting at airport and port terminals is being introduced. This is rather more than a ‘mission creep’, this is a state invasion.

This is as well as the unknown numbers of people being electronically surveyed by councils using the very broad opportunities provided for electronic surveillance by the latest anti-terror laws.

This organised spying on millions of people cannot be controlled or eliminated by legislation through bourgeois parliaments.

Imperialist capitalism has always used all major scientific advances to advance its strategic aims. The splitting of the atom and nuclear power were used for nuclear bombs, and nuclear submarines, while advances in communications have been used to launch missiles and guide them to target. Now pilotless planes, controlled from bases in the US hit Iraqi, Afghan or Pakistani targets.

In the UK the most modern technology is being used to monitor every single person, so as to to calculate just what the danger is to the state in this turbulent and revolutionary period of history.

Capitalism is acting in a defensive reflex to the approach of a socialist revolution. Only the victory of this revolution can destroy capitalism and imperialism and with it their surveillance society.