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Snoopers’ laws could be used to ‘oppress us’, says David Cameron technology adviser


Ben Hammersley, a Number 10 adviser to the Tech City project, said the draft Communications Data Bill could be turned from a force for good into something more sinister under future governments.

The main aim of the Bill is to give security services like MI5 and GCHQ the ability to monitor email traffic, without actually looking at its content.

However, it is currently being revised after a committee of MPs and peers raised privacy concerns about the bill’s intrusion into people’s lives.

Asked for his views on the new laws, Mr Hammersley said the consequences could be “disastrous” in an interview with Tank magazine.

“I don’t trust future governments,” he said. “The successors of the politicians who put this in place might not be trustworthy.

“As a society, it would be stupid to build the infrastructure that could be used to oppress us. It just never works out well, because even if you’re using it for good stuff now, the fact that we don’t know who is going to be in charge in ten years’ time means that we shouldn’t give them free toys to play with.”

In a separate podcast last year, Mr Hammersley compared the Government’s aims on the draft Communications Bill to a country like North Korea and other “draconian” states.

“They are quite open about the fact that they want to have records of everybody’s online communications,” he said. “I advise the Government on stuff and my advice was laughing at them quite hard for about an hour and then writing a policy paper which told them it was nonsense.

“The idea that the internet is like the postal service or like the copper line phone network in that it can be monitored in such a way is hilarious, because it can’t be technologically speaking, unless you become North Korea. Unless you become massively draconian you can’t either monitor propery or censor completely the internet.


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