There is more than a note of discord in the UK IT industry today. In fact there is a whole symphony tuning up over the control freakery of the government's mad, bad and stupid plans to appoint itself as Britain's internet Big Brother.
Using the mass hysteria in the wake of the recent US terrorist atrocities, wannabe Big Brother Blair and aspiring medium sized brother Blunkett have moved to dramatically curtail the freedom and privacy of millions of British internet users.
Impending anti-terrorist legislation proposed by Home Secretary David Blunkett is very scary indeed.
The Home Office is asking internet service providers (ISPs) to keep records of which websites their customers visit, what newsgroup articles they read and who they email, for 12 months.
It will include "measures to enable communication service providers to retain data generated in the course of their business, namely the records of calls made and other data - not the content".
The arguments for it are seductive and persuasive: those people who have done nothing wrong have nothing to fear. So if you're not a terrorist there is nothing for you to worry about, right? Only up to a point. The ways in which this personal data can be mis-used are legion.
Privacy groups are, quite rightly, concerned that the moves, combined with powers granted under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, will provide law enforcement agencies with a snooping carte blanche.
Caspar Bowden, director of the Foundation for Information Policy Research, warned: "Sensitive data could be collected in the name of national security. But Mr Blunkett intends to allow access to this data for purposes which have nothing to do with fighting terrorism.
"Minor crimes, public order and tax offences, attendance at demonstrations, even 'health and safety' will be legitimate reasons to siphon sensitive details of private life into government databases to be retained indefinitely."
But this move is no surprise. Governments have feared the internet and the communications freedom it engenders since its inception. Look at RIP in the UK. Look at China's paranoia over allowing its citizens to access content free from the attentions of official government censors.
Also remember the amazing fuss over Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) when it was first launched. And, more recently, when privacy hero Phil Zimmermann became a hate target for deranged nutters because he wrote one of the best email encryption packages around.
The waters are further muddied by bungling Brussels bureaucrats. EU ministers are backing law enforcement authorities' demands to extend laws to aid criminal investigations, while the EC supports the position of civil rights groups and carriers/ISPs, which have argued that current laws suffice, and that the proposed extensions go much too far.
So what's the answer? Anyone in their right mind abhors and rigorously condemns any form of terrorism. Anyone not dressed in one of those funny white jackets which lace up the back should acknowledge that we need effective laws to fight against terrorism.
Without dwelling on Locke's theories of social contract too much, we should see that laws should be fair and moderate; in the same way that if police today suspect that someone is engaged in serious criminal activity, they can apply for a warrant to install a phone tap. This is fair enough.
The default legal position favours the individual freedom - remember innocent until proven guilty? But the proposed Big Brother legislation would mean that we would all be presumed guilty.
Hopefully, soon to be ex-government spin doctor, Jo Moore, should resign over her appalling and tasteless "it's a good day to bury bad news" comments.
While she was looking to bury some trivial domestic spin on 11 September, over five thousand people lost their lives - were really buried - in the worst terrorist atrocity in the history of mankind.
But these draconian attempts at eroding the privacy of our citizens has similarly exploited the appalling events in New York. We should not rush a law through on a wave of mass hysteria. If we legislate through fear, the people will come to fear the legislature.
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