Former UK MI5 Chief Warns About Possible Police State

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The former head of the the spy agency MI5, Dame Stella Rimington, has accused the UK government of pushing the country towards a police state, according to news reports in UK like this from the BBC.

Dame Stella says that the government has been using the threat of terrorism as a way to pass laws that interfere with people's privacy. She goes on to say, "It would be better that the Government recognised that there are risks, rather than frightening people in order to be able to pass laws which restrict civil liberties, precisely one of the objects of terrorism: that we live in fear and under a police state.â''

Her remarks come as the UK Home Office prepares to publish plans for a significant expansion of state surveillance, with the government intending to spend some £12 billion on a database to monitor and store the internet browsing habits, e-mail and telephone records of everyone in Britain.

According to the BBC a Home Office spokesman responded by saying: "The government has been clear that where surveillance or data collection will impact on privacy they should only be used where it is necessary and proportionate."

"This provides law enforcement agencies with the tools to protect the public as well as ensuring government has the ability to provide effective public services while ensuring there are effective safeguards and a solid legal framework that protects civil liberties."

That must explain why taking photos of policeman in the UK, including those acting illegally, is now banned. It must be to protect the public.

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