An Orwellian violation of privacy is still not the answer to safeguarding the country in the face of extremism


Oliver Daniel is a second year Geography undergraduate, current intern at PolicyBristol, and cyber-security intern in Summer 2016.

The tragic news from Paris shook the world, and has led to an urgent reconsideration of how we can safeguard our citizens’ security. Less than two weeks after the announcement of Theresa May’s Investigatory Powers Bill, the horrific events of Paris still cannot be used as a means to justify it.

“Computers are central to our everyday lives. Big data is reshaping the way we live and work. The internet has brought us tremendous opportunities to prosper and interact with others. But a digital society also presents us with challenges. The same benefits enjoyed by us all are being exploited by serious and organised criminals, online fraudsters, and terrorists. The threat is clear. In the past 12 months alone, six significant terrorist plots have been disrupted here in the UK, as well as a number of further plots overseas. The frequency and cost of cyber-attacks is increasing, with 90% of large organisations suffering an information security breach last year.” Theresa May

The Bill was justified by the Rt Hon Theresa May MP as necessary to ensure that “law enforcement and the security and intelligence agencies have the powers they need to keep us safe”. But does this Bill really succeed in keeping us safe, and if so, at what cost?

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Sterilisation, story-telling and consent

Dr Matthew Brown, Reader in Latin American Studies, School of Modern Languages

Dr Matthew Brown, Reader in Latin American Studies, School of Modern Languages

I consented to being sterilised.

Why was this?

Because I was repeatedly offered the opportunity to consent to being sterilised by the National Health Service. No doubt the British state has its reasons for wanting to sterilise me (I might have too many children for some people’s liking, for example; I live in an area of social deprivation, and my political affiliations are pretty easy to ascertain from the Internet). Nevertheless, a truth remains: I was offered at least three opportunities to consent to be sterilised, and I gave my consent three times, verbally and in writing. I was given time to think it over. I walked to the neighbourhood clinic, had my tubes cut by a friendly surgeon, and hobbled home to bed and a bag of frozen peas.

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