Murdoch’s Sun backs Facebook snooping – but wants protection for its reporters

Self-serving paper demands judicial oversight for itself, but none for its readers


The Sun’s position on big state intrusion in people’s lives is curiously selective.

Warning of the threat from web-savvy ISIS terrorists, the Sun Says column today endorses the government’s Communications Data Bill:

“So it is vital, as MI5 chief Andrew Parker says, that his spooks have every power to track internet, phone and social media use and crack encrypted apps. […]

Twitter, Facebook and others must prioritise public safety over the privacy of terrorists or their supporters and come forward with suspicious posts.

And Britain must no longer luxuriate in hand-wringing debates about ‘snooping’ when the price is hampering those on the front line of the intelligence war.”

Does this mean the Sun is in favour of handing these powers to the government? Well, not always:

There is a caveat though.

We trust MI5. By contrast, police have routinely abused anti-terror laws to target the journalistic sources behind stories they find inconvenient.

Their power to analyse data must be overseen, every time, by a judge.

What the Sun fails to mention is that the investigations it refers to were into alleged criminal activity at… the Sun, and parent company News UK.  

Criminal activity, moreover, that included conspiracy to hack phones – i.e. access people’s private information.

How strange the Sun’s analysis is so helpful to its own (undisclosed) interests. 

It’s true a number of reporters and their sources have been arrested and prosecuted since the hacking scandal. But the Sun’s moral stand on this collapses when you consider how it was News UK that gave reporters’ names and notebooks to the police.

As for today’s column, the newspaper in effect says the state can rummage through everyone’s phone and social media accounts, in the name of national security, but if you want to ‘analyse data’ held by the Sun, you ought to get approval from a judge.

Judicial oversight for the Sun, none for its readers. How do you spell ‘self-serving’ in tabloidese?


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Adam Barnett is a staff writer at Left Foot Forward. Follow MediaWatch on Twitter

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