Who are "they" and what do they want and who cares?
Can I jump into this argument about "they". Normally I'm one of those who castigate the indiscriminate use of "they", to mean, "anybody who's not my mate and especially anyone who has any authority of any kind." This time, I think there may be a case for it. Firstly the article identified two lots of "them" in particular - specific branches of the police and the security services, and specifically the policy-makers in these groups.
People that senior reckon by and large that they are not run by the government, but vice versa. They are long-term career people, who appoint others like themselves to run crucial committees and handle "briefing" ministers. Like all other collections of people they have their rogues, their incompetents, their fanatics and also their dedicated public officials - the last named are probably the most dangerous, because they think they are right. Generally one lot of like-minded people hand over to another lot when they eventually take their (very generous) pensions.
If they did not share the common mindset - "there is no such thing as too much intelligence, it all helps us do our job, which is keeping people safe."
The job of protecting us from the watchers is the one we give to politicians, and they are not very good at that job, as they trust the watchers a lot more than they trust the electorate.
They are going to get their mass surveillance, because they want it badly enough to twist arms in the corridors of power, and they are very good at arm-twisting.
The cleverest bit of this whole thing is that the Internet, as well as being ubiquitous and being easy to use for data mining, is also just strange enough for what is being done seem as though it might be reasonable.
So, start a campaign against discrimination against e-mail users. Why should those of us who send our letters over the wires, and read our newspapers online (whilst the wretched Murdoch will let us) be treated worse than the rest of the population. I suggest therefore that:
1) every TV set/video recorder must have a recording chip which makes a note of what programs you watch, and sends it every day to your local police headquarters.
2) all letters must be taken to your nearest post office, and the addressee and the sender logged, and the contents photocopied. Remember terrorists can get around the e-mail ban by writing letters - this must be avoided.
3) anyone buying a newspaper or magazine must, at the till, have their ID logged together with the barcode on the magazine, so that the security forces know who is reading what. In fact you could extend this very easily - all you have to do is have a logging sensor which picks up the details of the item being purchased, and the ID of the purchaser, then all you have to do is to dock their bank account automatically, and send the details down the wires.
Remember the US security forces proposed in all seriousness to get the records of all purchases made with a credit or debit card, as well as of all books borrowed from libraries as part of their "total information" drive. It fell by the wayside (I think) because of cost and technical issues, but I don't think civil liberties issues came into it.
Tell everyone that every phone call they make is going to be recorded and the police will listen to everything, and then keep it on record. Then they are going to make it easy for casual labour at the police data centres to listen in, and sell anything you say to whoever wants to hear it.
Perhaps having the post office clerk sniggering at your love letters in front of you, nicking your Christmas gifts and chucking your snapshots in the bin might make this sort of intrusion real to people.
I fear not. And it won't even make everyone "safer" - ask the people who remember living in the DDR if they felt "safer" for the kind attentions of the Stasi.