Brexit would harm the UK's snooping apparatus, Home Secretary Theresa May argued in a speech today, suggesting we probably ought to leave the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) instead.
Speaking at the Institute of Mechanical Engineers this morning, the snooping-obsessed Home Secretary presented the many surveillance benefits that the European Union provides to Blighty's security efforts as one of the main reasons for remaining in the EU.
Blighty currently trades its citizens' data with other countries in return for accessing other nations' through subscriptions to the European Criminal Records Information System, as well as sharing them through the network of Financial Intelligence Units, the Prisoner Transfer Framework, the SIS II, Joint Investigation Teams, and to Prüm.
May said these are "all agreements that enable law enforcement agencies to co-operate and share information with one another in the fight against cross-border crime and terrorism."
She added these agreements help the UK "to turn foreign criminals away at the border, prevent money laundering by terrorists and criminals, get foreign criminals out of our prisons and back to their home countries, investigate cases that cross borders, and share forensic data like DNA and fingerprinting much more quickly."
Striking down the arguments that Britain was too small to cope outside the EU as “nonsense”, May stated that "we are the fifth biggest economy in the world, we are growing faster than any economy in the G7, and we attract nearly a fifth of all foreign investment in the EU."
While publicly presenting herself as a committed remainiac, May stated that "the case for remaining a signatory of the European Convention on Human Rights – which means Britain is subject to the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights – is not clear."
The ECHR was principally drafted by a former British Home Secretary and Tory MP, Sir David Maxwell-Fyfe, who had been one of the prosecutors at the Nuremberg Trials. Under both the ECHR and the EU's laws, Britain's snooping powers have been found to be unlawful.
May also dismissed US president Barack Obama's suggestion that Britain would be left sucking at America's hind tit if it left the EU:
If we were not members of the European Union, of course we would still have our relationship with America. We would still be part of the Five Eyes, the closest international intelligence-sharing arrangement in the world. We would still have our first-rate security and intelligence agencies. We would still share intelligence about terrorism and crime with our European allies, and they would do the same with us.
May did not mention any security concerns she had which may arise from police in less savoury member states having access to Britons' DNA records, or Passenger Name Records, or the European Arrest Warrant, which she stated were "worthwhile because they are not about grandiose state-building and integration but because they enable practical co-operation and information sharing."
In the last year, we have been able to check the criminal records of foreign nationals more than 100,000 times. Checks such as these mean we have been able to deport more than 3,000 European nationals who posed a threat to the public. The police will soon be able to check DNA records for EU nationals in just 15 minutes. Under the old system it took 143 days. Last year, the French used information exchanged through the Prüm agreement to locate one of the suspected perpetrators of the November attacks in Paris.
The Register has asked both the Home Office and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office whether any numbers were kept on how often such checks have been carried out on Britons. Neither office was able to confirm that such information was kept, but are looking into it. ®