David Omand’s national security strategy report shows us we have a very short time to save society from tyranny.
“Once an individual has been assigned a unique index number, it is possible to accurately retrieve data across numerous databases and build a picture of that individual’s life that was not authorised in the original consent for data collection,” says Sir David Omand in a report for the Institute for Public Policy research.
This is not some wild fantasy. It is the world that we are about to move into and which Jack Straw’s coroners and justice bill, the ID Cards Act, RIPA laws and the EBorders scheme have patiently constructed while we have been living in an idiots’ paradise of easy money.
We have a choice: either we can believe that the British state is peculiarly immune to tyrannical instincts that are beginning to show in this government or we can now start to oppose what is going on. We have a very short time to save our society from this nightmare, as has been made clear by Sir Ken Macdonald, the former DPP, Dame Stella Rimington, the former head of MI5, and the House of Lord constitutional committee.
Omand is not the first civil servant to describe this world to us. In 2006 Sir David Varney, the head of Transformational Government predicted that the state would know “a deep truth about the citizen based on their behaviour, experience, beliefs, needs or desires”. The report from the IPPR merely fills in the gaps of this statement and shows us how it will be done.
Omand is a “securicrat” par excellence. He is the former intelligence and security adviser to Tony Blair; he speaks from the heart of the surveillance bureaucracy; and his views are those of GCHQ, which has lobbied for the measures in the coroners and justice bill. His paper is presented by some as a warning – which it is to all of us – but having met the man and debated him, I am pretty sure that this represents his heart’s desire. Either way, the important point is that we now have a very clear picture of what is about to happen, and it is for us to respond by fashioning a society where the powers that technology grants our rulers are controlled.
You may wonder why parliament has not alerted us to these dangers. That is because it is because part of the project, and Labour ministers continue to shelter behind the Human Rights Act, which offers no protection to the British public whatsoever. What we need is entrenched legislation that controls the executive and makes sure that no British citizen will ever be assigned a number so that the state may conveniently watch his or her every move.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is time to resist for we cannot rely, as Omand asks us, on the "essential reasonableness of the UK police, security and intelligence agency activity".
Tomorrow week the Commons committee meets to discuss Jack Straw's data-sharing proposal in the coroners and justice bill. If this measure goes through we are lost.