New surveillance laws will only help fuel terrorism

The Government is right to be concerned about extremism, but their plans to protect national security will only put us more at risk

Share

Protecting the security of the nation is David Cameron's primary task. But when counter-terrorism legislation undermines counter-extremism, we are in danger of sacrificing long-term security for short-term surveillance.

A forthcoming Intelligence and Security Committee report is likely to be a vessel for the rebranding of the much criticised draft Data Communications Bill. It will likely recommend legalising the interception of “internal” communications without an individual warrant, something for which the NSA’s Prism and GCHQ’s Tempora programmes have already been heavily criticised.

The proposed legislation will likely require companies to retain big data that the authorities could mine if it suspected someone of a terrorism-related offence. You would hope the government wouldn't use these powers without great discretion, indiscriminately or irresponsibly.

But even if they don’t, we should be concerned that the bill would pay insufficient attention to British citizens' right to privacy. The potential benefits to counter-terrorism are dwarfed by the potential damages to counter-extremism.

Theresa May is rightly concerned about the challenges that violent extremism poses to our national security. The Islamic State's declaration of a “Caliphate” last week, coupled with its appeal to potential British foreign fighters is foremost among them.

However, its existence should not be used as a hook to push through draconian measures that would only serve to negatively alter the fabric of our society.

Wrong-footed policymaking can have an untold effect on the appeal that extremist ideologies have. Extremists are adept at manipulating grievances relating to flawed policies, something which is at the very heart of radicalisation.

More than any other sphere of policy, counter-terrorism measures lay governments open to the harshest of criticism. It was easy for extremist preachers, groups and charismatic recruiters to point to the unfair profiling of Muslims in the “stop and search” policy. Likewise, the illiberal relocation aspect of control orders (which some are calling to be brought back) was able to convince vulnerable people that the authorities hate and will forever persecute them.

With that in mind, taking great care in developing and implementing nuanced counter-terrorism measures is crucial. The introduction of a sweeping law like the “Snoopers' Charter” will be exploited by extremists to show that the government wants to spy on its own citizens, that all Muslims are suspected of being terrorists, and that David Cameron is just as bad as Bashar al-Assad, even though none of those things could be further from the truth.

It is essential that any proposed data communications legislation carefully considers the impact on counter-extremism, and avoids being exploited for extremist propaganda by being clearly communicated. It must also be well-informed and democratic, taking on board feedback from the joint committee as well as the court of public opinion.

Labour and the Liberal Democrats have their roles too. They must always prioritise civil liberties alongside issues of national security, and loudly voice their criticisms of the Home Secretary's plans. If they fail to do this, then the Government will be given carte blanche to destroy the balance we have been our safety and our freedom, and fuel the fire that it's trying to fight.

READ NEXT:
Even when it brutalises one of its own teenage citizens, America is helpless against Israel
Rumours of sexual misconduct can no longer be brushed beneath the carpet
Is Ian Thorpe gay? Does anyone care?

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £30,000+

£16000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are looking for individual...

Recruitment Genius: IT Project Coordinator / Manager

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Project Coordinator is requir...

Recruitment Genius: Mortgage Advisor - OTE £95,000

£40000 - £95000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Vehicle Inspectors / Purchasers

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Trainee Vehicle Inspectors / Pu...

Day In a Page

Read Next
The possibility of Corbyn winning has excited some Conservatives  

Labour leadership: The choice at the heart of the leadership campaign

Jeremy Corbyn
Pablo Iglesias, the leader of Spain’s anti-austerity party Podemos  

Greece debt crisis: Trouble is, if you help the Greeks, everyone will want the same favours

Charlotte McDonald-Gibson Charlotte McDonald-Gibson
Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

Heavy weather

What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

World Bodypainting Festival 2015

Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

Don't call us nerds

Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high
How to find gold: The Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge

How to find gold

Steve Boggan finds himself in the Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge
Singing accents: From Herman's Hermits and David Bowie to Alesha Dixon

Not born in the USA

Lay off Alesha Dixon: songs sound better in US accents, even our national anthem
10 best balsamic vinegars

10 best balsamic vinegars

Drizzle it over salad, enjoy it with ciabatta, marinate vegetables, or use it to add depth to a sauce - this versatile staple is a cook's best friend
Wimbledon 2015: Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

Serena dispatched her elder sister 6-4, 6-3 in eight minutes more than an hour
Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

No hope and no jobs in Gaza

So the young risk their lives and run for it
Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

Fashion apps

Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy