James O'Brien reveals why he changed his mind on state surveillance of emails

30 September 2020, 15:23

By Sam Sholli

James O'Brien has opened up about why he changed his position on government surveillance of people's emails - he now sees it no differently from the state going though his house or briefcase.

The LBC presenter used to be in favour of the government going through the general public's emails, believing that if people had nothing to hide then they would have nothing to fear.

Reflecting on his past position, James said: "When you're 20 or 30 years younger than me, I think you forget what the post-September 11th landscape looked like...the sense of fear."

"I did sit here ten years ago and say that if they want access to my emails then that's fine and I've got nothing to hide," he added.

However, James admitted he now thinks his previous position on the subject was wrong because in the past he didn't think enough about how "malevolent forces" could use such powers in the future.

He said: "...I don't feel that way now because what I've seen in Britain and America, of course, is very malevolent forces rising to the top.

"Suddenly you realise the reason you can't let governments go through you metaphorical sock drawer when they are not malevolent or malign and that they don't wish you harm is that those laws and those rules will remain in place when a government gets elected that is disgusting and malevolent."

James then spoke about how his previous position was influenced by how he didn't use to view his emails differently from his physical communications.

He said: "Back then I thought that my emails were somehow different from my physical communications.

"So if you're sitting there thinking it's fine for the government to go through [your] email account or it's fine for the government to check [your] social media, then you should also leave your door unlocked or at least invite government officers in to go through all of your belongings..."

James added: "I wasn't thinking of them in the same way that I now do. I now think of them as being exactly the same as letters. I wouldn't want the government to go through my mail any more than I'd want it to go through my house or briefcase."