- Ending of storage of internet and email records without good reasonI imagine a scene straight out of Yes Minister as the new Home Secretary Theresa May stretched her legs under her new desk at 2 Marsham Street.
"Of course Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg were very right to include this noble statement in their agreement; but you see, Minister, there is very good reason why we need to store all internet and email records..."But this isn't a gripe at the traditions and balances of power within the Great Offices of State but at the hoards of consultants advising the civil servants who in turn advise the ministers and secretaries of state about what needs to be done to reign-in control over information in the information age.
And at the naivety of the Liberal Democrats for allowing "without good reason" - what must be the most flexible Get out of Jail Free card since PC Simon Harwood probably quite literally kept out of jail by avoiding criminal charges over the death of Ian Tomlinson.
The IMP is nothing more than a fig leaf - an attempt by those in power to be seen to be doing something to stop the bad guys.
It's kind of like having a life jacket under your aeroplane seat at 38,000 feet yet no parachute. Yes it could be useful, if we make it down to sea level in one piece. Except having a life jacket under every seat costs relatively little and harms no-one. May as well have one there as not.
Anyone who believes that storing petabytes of data is going to make the country safer and have no tangible impact on civil rights is misguided. Terrorists and serious criminals will change-up their game. The early casualties are likely to be innocent net users wrongly accused of serious crimes, the ISPs shouldering the huge technology costs, and households paying far more for their broadband.
Oh, and the taxpayers - with an estimated bill likely to exceed the £2bn already slated.
The only possible winners here are the technology consultants and equipment manufacturers.
I'd like to bet money on four outcomes:
1.) A stable of consultants from the big accountancy and IT firms have already made substantial sums advising various government departments, charging fees reportedly topping £3000 per day for senior partners
2.) The same firms and consultants will continue to rake in huge sums
3.) The IMP plans eventually prove to be infeasible, mainly due to (i) a shift towards encryption as standard for oversees websites outside UK jurisdiction and (ii) the huge cost burden about to be placed on ISPs
4.) The public never gets to hear a compellingly "good reason."
The Consultant's Trap
The biggest problem I have with consultants is the inherent conflict of interest. They're hired to make the will of department heads and senior policy advisers seem feasible. A bloody-minded old fool convinces him- or herself that something is a good thing, therefore it must happen.
Only the greenest of naive (albeit honest) consultants would turn up and explain to said bloody-minded old fool that they can't have what they want, and expect to invoice anything more than half a day's fees.
Better take the work whilst you can get it, and start sketching-out the cutting pattern for the Emperor's brand new cloak.
Over the last couple of days I've been too annoyed about this broken promise to write on the IMP - until now. Expect much more to follow!