Nature of the Debate
We have to be careful here, because it is easy to be drawn in to a debate where the context of what is being discussed has been defined before we have a chance to look at it and agree to it.
In this case, the context needs to be an answer to the question: "What level of intrusion on personal privacy is acceptable in the defense of things like personal safety, the Defense of the Realm, etc?"
Ultimately, this is a risk-based decision. When a bank agrees to let you have a credit card, they weigh up the potential for making profits from you against the potential risk you pose if you run up a debt you cannot pay back. So when we as a society make a decision about the surveillance powers we are willing to give to our Security Services, that needs to be on the back of a clearly defined risk or threat.
The problem that we have with this entire debate is that any interest by citizens to become engaged in the debate is met one of three ways:-
1. A pat on the head and a condescending smile as we're told not to worry our pretty little selves about it, Nanny State has got this covered...
2. A sneered response that this sort of topic is discussed on a need-to-know basis - and that we don't need to know...
3. A stern frown and a knock on the door only to be asked to accompany someone away for an "interview".
Everything our governments do for us - *everything* is paid for by taxes that we pay. Our government is supposed to serve us - it is where the terms "Public Servant" and "Public Sector" came from. Unfortunately, in an increasing number of areas, governments the world over seem to view the electorate as the enemy.