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2nd April
2012
  

Twin Big Brothers...

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Coalition government proposes extreme internet surveillance

Big Brother UK Police and intelligence officers are to be handed the power to monitor people's messages online in what has been described as an attack on the privacy of vast numbers of Britons.

The Home Secretary, Theresa May, intends to introduce legislation in next month's Queen's Speech which would allow law-enforcement agencies to snoop on citizens using Facebook, Twitter, online gaming forums and the video-chat service Skype.

Regional police forces, MI5 and GCHQ, the Government's eavesdropping centre, would be given the right to know who speaks to whom on demand and in real time and without a warrant. Warrants would only be required to view the content of messages.

Civil liberties groups rightfully expressed grave concern at the move. Nick Pickles, director of the Big Brother Watch campaign group, described it as

 An unprecedented step that will see Britain adopt the same kind of surveillance as in China and Iran.

David Davis, the former Conservative shadow Home Secretary, said:

The state was unnecessarily extending its power to snoop on its citizens.

It is not focusing on terrorists or on criminals, the MP said. It is absolutely everybody. Historically, governments have been kept out of our private lives. They don't need this law to protect us. This is an unnecessary extension of the ability of the state to snoop on ordinary innocent people in vast numbers.

Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, said the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats had resisted greater surveillance powers when in opposition:

This is more ambitious than anything that has been done before. The Coalition bound itself together in the language of civil liberties. Do they still mean it?

May is confident of enacting the new law because it has the backing of the Liberal Democrats, once strong supporters of civil liberties, but now obviously not. Senior Liberal Democrat backbenchers are believed to have been briefed by their ministers on the move and are not expected to rebel in any parliamentary vote. A senior adviser to Big Brother Clegg said he had been persuaded of the merits of extending the police and security service powers

The Home Office said that the legislation would be introduced as soon as parliamentary time allows , and said:

We need to take action to maintain the continued availability of communications data as technology changes. Communications data includes time, duration and dialling numbers of a phone call or an email address. It does not include the content of any phone call or email and it is not the intention of Government to make changes to the existing legal basis for the interception of communications.

However these claims about not snooping on contents seem somewhat contradictory when considering the proposed extension to social networking. There the communications only exist as the contents of a web page. There are no dialled numbers and email connections on Facebook, just the messages on your wall.

According to The Sunday Times, which broke the story, the ISP's Association, which represents communications firms, was unhappy with the proposal when it was briefed by the Government last month. A senior industry official told the paper: The network operators are going to be asked to put probes in the network and they are upset about the idea... it's expensive, it's intrusive to your customers, it's difficult to see it's going to work and it's going to be a nightmare to run legally.

Comm

Guy Herbert, General Secretary of NO2ID said:

Astonishing brass neck from the Home Office, attempting to feed us reheated leftovers from the authoritarian end of the Blair administration. It is not very far from a bug in every living room that can be turned on and turned off at official whim. Whatever you are doing online, whoever you are in contact with, you will never know when you are being watched. And nobody else will either, because none of it will need a warrant.

Put aside privacy – and the government has – the scheme is an astonishing waste of money. What problem does it solve that is worth billions?

Comment: Acquitted

2nd April 2012.  See  article from  press.mu.no2id.net

No 2 ID logo Guy Herbert, General Secretary of campaign group NO2ID said:

Astonishing brass neck from the Home Office, attempting to feed us reheated leftovers from the authoritarian end of the Blair administration. It is not very far from a bug in every living room that can be turned on and turned off at official whim. Whatever you are doing online, whoever you are in contact with, you will never know when you are being watched. And nobody else will either, because none of it will need a warrant.

It looks like the Home Office is setting out to leapfrog China and gain the UK an unenviable position as the most monitored society in history. The automatic recording and tracing of everything done online by anyone -- of almost all our communications and much of our personal lives, shopping and reading -- just in case it might come in useful to the authorities later, is beyond the dreams of any past totalitarian regime, and beyond the current capabilities of even the most oppressive states.

The vague assertion that all this is needed to deal with the usual bogeyman, terrorism, is worthless. It is hard to imagine any threat that is serious enough to justify it. But something that aims to make surveillance easy will create a demand for surveillance. Unless it is subject to proper controls from the beginning, then the pretexts for access will multiply. That would mean the end of privacy.

Put aside privacy -- and the government has -- the scheme is an astonishing waste of money. What problem does it solve that is worth billions?

Comment: Same Old Policy

3rd April 2012.  From David

It's interesting that the new email/phone snooping thing is *exactly* the same as that about to be brought in by Labour in 2006 - methinks this one is down to the long-term Whitehall Mandarins, rather than any particular party....

 

28th April
2012

 Offsite Article: Olympics Police Uniforms...

The chilling (and balaclava-clad) face of modern British policing: London siege reveals armed-to-the-teeth team preparing for the Olympic Games

See article from dailymail.co.uk

 

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