Today Islamic fundamentalists once again proved that they have no place in civilised society. Free speech is a basic human right in the west and we must fight to defend it. So while nobody likes the idea of the state monitoring all our emails our telephone calls our twitter messages, text messages and other communications, I’ve come to believe that we have to give up the right to that privacy in order to allow fundamentalists and the radicalised to be identified.
I think anyway there is a basic misunderstanding involved. Nobody is listening to the sweet nothings you whisper to your lover on the telephone. It would take millions of people to monitor millions of people. It must be done by software identifying patterns of behaviour or trigger words keywords and codewords. So if you’re doing nothing wrong you’ve got nothing to worry about, on the other hand if someone is planning an atrocity it can only be a good thing that the authorities have some way of finding out beforehand and stopping it before it happens.
That however does not mean that we can afford to be complacent. Terrorists, unless they are particularly stupid terrorists, have ways of hiding what they are planning. But it must be the case that someone or some people outside the terrorist group will suspect that something bad is being planned so it is up to ordinary people to report that to the authorities. If you’re wrong no harm done. If you’re right you may save lives.
The concept of neighbourhood watch should now include watching for suspicious behaviour. If everyone does that we can stop the terrorists in their tracks.