English DPP warns against “relentless pressure of a security State”
The outgoing head of the Crown Prosecution Service and DPP for England and Wales, Sir Ken MacDonald QC, has used his retirement speech to warn against UK government proposals to expand data retention:
As I near my conclusion, let me, in my final public speech as DPP, repeat my call for level headedness and for legislative restraint in an age of dangerous movements.
We need to take very great care not to fall into a way of life in which freedom’s back is broken by the relentless pressure of a security State.
Over the last thirty years technology has given each of us, as individual citizens, enormous gifts of access to information and knowledge. Sometimes it seems as if everything is at our fingertips and this has made our lives immeasurably richer.
But technology also gives the State enormous powers of access to knowledge and information about each one of us. And the ability to collect and store it at will. Every second of every day, in everything we do.
Of course modern technology is of critical importance to the struggle against serious crime.
Used wisely, it can protect us.
But we need to understand that it is in the nature of State power that decisions taken in the next few months and years about how the State may use these powers, and to what extent, are likely to be irreversible. They will be with us forever. And they in turn will be built upon.
So we should take very great care to imagine the world we are creating before we build it. We might end up living with something we can’t bear.