Myths, modifications and surveillance ‘modernisation’

Gus Hosein writes for Privacy International:

It is an increasingly common tactic of governments to say very little about a proposed policy, wait for opponents to start speaking publicly about it and then seize gleefully upon any error, accusing their opponents of peddling ‘myths’. This allows officials to spend more time talking about what the policy isn’t, and less time explaining what the policy actually is.

One recent example of this has been the Home Office’s approach to its policy for ‘modernising’ communications surveillance. For instance, instead of clarifiying the details of the policy when the media revealed the government’s intention to introduce new communications surveillance powers, the Deputy Prime Minister responded to questions by complaining:

“There’s been a lot of scaremongering, a lot of myths about in the media over the last couple of days.”

The Home Secretary wrote an article for the Sun, but instead of clarifying the policy, she merely stated:

“There are no plans for any big Government database. No one is going to be looking through ordinary people’s emails or Facebook posts.”