Mass state surveillance – some questions for Martin Horwood

A letter to the Gloucestershire Echo, published Monday 29 July 2013.


Dear Sir,

Back in 2008, Liberal Democrat MP for Cheltenham, Martin Horwood, could be found encouraging UK citizens to set limits on GCHQ’s eavesdropping capabilities. As reported by the Echo at the time, Martin was “deeply concerned about the civil liberties implications” of government plans to “monitor and store every single text message and e-mail sent in Britain, as well as records of every single website visit made within the country”.

Fast forward to the present and Martin Horwood can now be found lambasting whistleblower Edward Snowden for revealing that GCHQ, via a programme codenamed “Tempora”, indiscriminately (and almost certainly illegally, given current UK statutes) intercepts, stores and scans colossal volumes of communications data sent/received by UK citizens. More worrying still, Martin Horwood’s office has recently confirmed to me, by email, that Martin does not consider this mass surveillance programme to represent a threat to privacy!

The above in mind, I’d be grateful if Martin could grace the Echo’s letters page to explain:

(a) The dramatic shift in his perspective between 2008 and 2013; and

(b) How his 2013 views square with the Liberal Democrats’ manifesto pledge to “protect and restore [our] freedoms” and “end plans to store [our] email and internet records without good cause”.

Yours faithfully,

Joe Sucksmith


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