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: Bookkeeper / Office Co-ordinator

£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This role is based within a small family run ...

Recruitment Genius: Designer - Print & Digital

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Design and marketing agenc...

Recruitment Genius: Quantity Surveyor

£46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This property investment firm are lookin...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Telemarketing Executive - OTE £30k / £35k plus

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Errors & Omissions: When is a baroness not a baroness? Titles still cause confusion

Guy Keleny
 

CPAC 2015: What I learnt from the US — and what the US could learn from Ukip

Nigel Farage
The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower