Oh! This puts me in such a bad mood.
Lord King is author of amendments tabled last week to the Counter Terrorism and Security Bill. They would have granted the government surveillance powers without proper checks and balances. Arguing in favour of the changes, Lord King admitted he did not use social media and did not understand apps like WhatsApp or SnapChat.
I am not a tweeter. We have Facebook and Twitter. Somebody tried to explain WhatsApp to me; somebody else tried to explain Snapchat. I do not know about them, but it is absolutely clear that the terrorists and jihadists do.
Whenever a new technology is introduced I think it’s perfectly acceptable for people (especially older people) to profess a bafflement. Whatever Will They Think Of Next? It’s down to the individual to decide whether he or she wishes to use the new technology. There are many people out there who eschew television, mobile phones, e-mail, Facebook and e-books. I’m sure in previous generations there were those who preferred horses to automobiles.
Opting out is fine. There is no shame in not using social media. However, it’s absolutely not fine to legislate against social media, without having a deep understanding of what it is and the role it plays in our economy, our culture, and modern social relationships. To do so is reactionary and wrong. Lord King’s jokey admission of ignorance is passé and out-of-place in 2015. Ludditry is not cool.
In this case, it’s also a danger to liberty and security. Tom King does not seek to understand the unknown. He just brands it as something to be feared and stopped. In doing so he advocates policies that would undermine privacy and therefore the trust people have in social media services. Whistleblowers will be discouraged and international, inter-cultural communication (essential to reducing terrorism and war) will be hindered. All because amendments to the law were tabled by an unelected legislator who takes pride in being ignorant of the technology.