Sir John Sawers, the former head of British intelligence outfit MI6, is reported as thinking that we cannot stop terrorism unless we spy on innocent people.
To which I say, fine. I’m not expecting you to stop terrorism.
Just like I’m not expecting you to stop domestic abuse by planting cameras in every household in the country. And I’m not expecting you to stop car crashes by taking driving licences away from everybody.
We live in a world of acceptable risks – as a risk-adverse world is hardly worth living in at all.
And, unpalatable as it may be to politicians seeking re-election and frightened of social media backlash, if there is the choice between some people having ghastly things happen to them because of terrorists and all of us having our privacy infringed by the very people that we voted into power…
.. then I say, ok. I can live with some terrorism.
The-powers-that-be need to find ways to catch criminals, paedophiles and terrorists that don’t reduce our freedoms. Because our freedom is sacred. But if they miss some of the bad guys, sometimes, that’s an acceptable risk.
Just like we’re prepared to take a risk crossing the road, catching an aeroplane, or eating donuts.
By the way, those with long memories may recall that when Sir John was appointed head of MI6 back in 2009, his wife caused a potential security alert after she was careless with her Facebook privacy settings, and revealed details of their friends, family and the location of their flat.
I’m surprised he allowed his family to use Facebook. Wasn’t that a bit, umm, risky?
- Listen to this BBC radio punch-up over David Cameron’s surveillance backdoor
- Wanted: end-to-end encryption (with a backdoor for this guy)