Plaid warn against Coalition pursuit of surveillance state


Plaid Cymru's Parliamentary Leader, Elfyn Llwyd MP, has warned that government plans to monitor people's activity on social network sites, e-mail, online gaming and internet phone calls as part of the draft Communications Bill published today would create a society in which all citizens are suspects.

Mr Llwyd said that the Bill, branded the "snooper's charter" by civil liberties campaigners, would see the entire population being subjected to intrusion in order to tackle the criminal behaviour of a small minority.

He also criticised Metropolitan Police commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe's claims that more access to data is necessary in order to wage a "total war on crime", stating that such vague declarations have repeatedly ended in failure in the past.

Mr Llwyd said:

"The previous Labour government set a precedent of draconian security measures and it is deeply worrying that the Coalition is intending to follow suit with this latest Bill.

"As in most cases of introducing new legislation, we must strive for a balance between liberty and security, but Home Secretary Theresa May's proposals are in danger of curtailing the former through creating a society in which all citizens are suspects.

"It is small comfort that the content of messages will not be available considering that the 'who, when and where' of communications will be easily obtainable with just a warrant.

"I also have concerns over Metropolitan Police commissioner, Bernard Hogan-Howe's comments that such measures are necessary in order to be able to wage "a total war on crime. Considering the failure of the 'war on terror' and 'war on drugs', Plaid Cymru have consistently maintained that a more restorative approach would prove more beneficial than simplistic and vague sound-bites.

"It is no surprise that the Home Secretary faces rebellion from within her own party and the wider Coalition given the somewhat ominous nature of these plans. I hope that the government will yield to pressure from politicians and civil liberties campaigners and rethink this intrusive Bill so that the very values which shape a democracy are not further eroded."