Parliament and the press have been “astonishingly complacent” when it comes to personal privacy issues following the Edward Snowden surveillance revelations.
At a Q&A session following a private screening of the Snowden documentary ‘Citizen Four’, former Conservative party chairman and Shadow Deputy Prime Minister, David Davis, said that the freedom for surveillance needed to be “brought under control” as for the past couple of years we have been in a benign state and become “appallingly complacent” to the extensive monitoring.
Davis called the destroying of hard drives at the Guardian an “act of vandalism” and a stupid thing, as the Cabinet Secretary went to the Guardian offices to try and destroy data that was already in the cloud and elsewhere. He said this was designed to intimidate; “and it worked”.
In terms of engaging the press, Davis said: “About 42 politicians backed me on this, but the press walked away from this story and it was inevitable. Clearly the combination of Number 10 and the intelligence agency made some think that this was a state of national emergency, but it was a complete bogus emergency.
“The truth of the matter is, the way a politician normally makes up his mind is to think about not the best or worst thing, but how to avoid the worst headline. The headline you don’t want is for something you vote to be found out four weeks later blown up in the papers. Whenever I vote, I always think in my mind ‘how would I deal with that’ and normally the measures are ineffective anyway.”
Davis went on to say that the press has been “pretty much inefficient”, and if the press don’t do anything, then MPs will be fine and the Government will not react.
Mike Harris, of the action group Don’t spy on us said that industry has a massive responsibility, as do consumers, to tell industry and we have got to be more vigilant and understand where this is going. “The minute you lose the moral arguments, it becomes a free for all,” he said.