Right now he’s so committed to keeping you safe, he’s rushing something called the Drip bill through the House of Commons. Drip stands for Data Retention and Investigatory Powers and critics are calling it yet another erosion of civil liberties and … see, I’ve lost you because it’s just so bloody boring. Maybe it’s just me, but whenever I hear about some fresh internet privacy outrage my brain enters screensaver mode and displays that looped news footage of mumblin’ Edward Snowden and I automatically nod off only to be awoken shortly afterwards by the sound of my forehead colliding sharply with the table.
The cross-party line is that the Drip bill will make life harder for terrorists and paedophiles, coincidentally the only two sectors of society less popular than politicians. The only thing worse than a paedophile or a terrorist is a paedophile terrorist, and it won’t be long till they’re dangling that threat over our heads, introducing fresh legislation to thwart Carlos the Savile.
Of course, all this stuff about keeping tabs on child molesters is a bit rich coming from an establishment that apparently can’t keep hold of an accusatory dossier for five minutes without accidentally ripping it up and eating the shreds, so they’ve cleverly headed off charges of hypocrisy by making the bill too boring for human beings to comprehend or care about.
Drip is the most tedious outrage ever, right down to the dreary acronym, which is why they’ll get away with shoving it through the Commons. Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband are in cahoots with Cameron on this. All three men are, I assume, pretending to have read and understood the bill, which seems unlikely given its dry impenetrability. Siri would fall asleep halfway through. You could swap it with the technical specifications documentation for a Netgear AV 500 Powerline Adapter and no one would notice.
Whenever there’s a state-sanctioned-invasion-of-privacy issue knocking around, a few chirpy types pop up to say: “Hey, I don’t mind if the government wants to spy on me – I’ve got nothing to hide and I’m quite boring really.” That’s your prerogative, but Jesus Christ, how did you get so beaten down, Mr Cog-in-the-Wheel? Mr Pebble-on-the-Beach. Is that really how you see yourself? As a worthless microbe content to be plucked from the stream, examined for a moment and tossed back like an unremarkable, unwanted sprat? An insignificant fluffspeck wafting through the vast aircraft hangar of life, buffeted hither and thither by the nonchalant farts of the powerful?
Yeah, me too. But nonetheless, a close, careful examination of the Drip bill’s various clauses and sub-clauses reveals alarming consequences for the average Joe, namely these:
▶ You’ll have to shout all your Google searches aloud while you type them.
Under the bill, any citizen conducting a Google search will be required to simultaneously bellow every word they type at the top of their voice, loud enough for the neighbours to hear. Any neighbour who supplies the authorities with information leading to a conviction automatically wins an iPad Air. It’s the cheapest, most comprehensive mass surveillance system ever designed.
▶ Every child born after August 2014 will, at birth, have one of its parents replaced by an undercover police officer.
They won’t know whether the rozzer is mummy or daddy. They will know that anything they say may be used in evidence against them.
▶ The only way to delete your own history will be to jump off a bridge.
Which will have the side effect of deleting your own future, too.
▶ You’ll have to email Theresa May asking permission each time you want to go to the toilet.
Obviously, given the number of responses she’ll be dealing with, there’ll be a terrible backlog. But you’ll just have to shit that out regardless three weeks later when your handwritten permit eventually arrives in the post.
▶ David Cameron can walk into your house and watch you sleeping whenever he wants.
Seriously, thanks to the Drip bill he can do that now. So he does, nightly. He stands at the foot of your bed, shrouded in gloom, his glassy eyes glinting coldly in the midnight blue, twin machined pupils mercilessly trained on your slumbering form; his sentinel’s glare drilling into your back, your shoulders, directly into the vulnerable side of your face as your head pivots uneasily on your pillow, your sleep disturbed by troublesome sensations, your dreams gradually infused with the bitter scent of a faraway fire, a smouldering pit of skull and bone. Slowly, you become aware of the mounting weight of a scream that has lasted for ever; here, now, enveloping you and the building entire. You jerk upright and snap on the light and, to your horror, he’s there – he’s really there. And, to your greater horror, he doesn’t leave. Cameron merely stands there, unblinking, looking at you. Looking through you, past you, into the never. In a hundred years you may come to realise that time itself has frozen and this moment is all that’s left, for eternity. But right now there’s only howling. Your own demented, desperate howling.
That’s clause nine.