The government’s proposal for data communications surveillance will be invasive and costly with minimal effectiveness

Dr Joss Wright writes in detail on the LSE Politics blog about CCDP. He concludes:

While the above arguments have focused to some extent on technology and the risks that come with its misguided application. A more important and fundamental argument, however, is that the proposed approach follows and accelerates a worrying trend towards blanket and unwarranted surveillance of the population in the hope of identifying those who may commit crimes. With the wealth of information revealed by communications data, the appeal to a Home Secretary of an algorithmic black box that can magically identify terrorists is, perhaps, understandable, at least to those unfamiliar with the concept of the base rate fallacy; such a view, however, violates the basic principle that individuals for whom there is no evidence or suspicion of wrongdoing should not be targeted. Without this principle, where does the surveillance and intrusion into our lives end?

There are many arguments against surveillance of the type proposed in schemes such as the Communication Capabilities Development Programme, and I have touched on only a fraction. In the past, technical and economic feasibility, as well as compliance with EU law, have proved some of the most powerful of these arguments, and they will remain so. Despite this, I believe that our arguments should stem first and foremost from the fact that blanket and unwarranted surveillance of the population is deeply wrong, both in terms of our fundamental human rights and in our most basic values as a society. Until that argument is won we will never see the end of these misguided and damaging proposals.

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