Agree with the Lib Dems? – No, I haven’t completely taken leave of my senses, just that attempts to build a massive database of our online lives are still festering:
Advocates say the measures will help the police and security services combat terrorists and criminals using the latest communications technology. They insist that the contents of internet communications will remain secret from the authorities.
Even if you believe the second sentence, the first had me rolling about the floor. Since when has any government of recent times shown itself able to to protect its citizens? As long as we are controlled from Brussels we have open borders, allowing all manner of undesirables to come here, and do what they want. Furthermore, numerous instances of data leaks and complete cock-ups with major IT projects have shown TPTB know less than the average school kid about how technology works.
I know I’m regarded as a bit of a conspiracy nut – at least some of the replies to my recent posts indicate that – it’s a mantra I will just have to accept. And I also know it’s extremely unlikely that a Western government would try and cut off internet communications, as too much of our society is dependent on it. But that doesn’t stop them trying to chip away, bit by bit.
2 days after the first Telegraph link (C/O Joe Public) comes a further article:
The joint committee, set up to examine the draft Communications Bill, yesterday warned of security “overkill”. This caused Nick Clegg, the deputy Prime Minister, to call on ministers to rip up their plans and go to “back to the drawing board”, deepening a rift with Theresa May, the Home Secretary.
Oh dear – another coalition rift…
Of course we shouldn’t forget that ALL the main parties have talked about some form of communication monitoring in the past, so this pathetic point scoring is becoming tedious.
Telegraph commenter cameronstolemyhorse quoted from the Coalition Programme for Government, which you can download (PDF) by clicking on the highlighted link. The interesting part is regarding Civil Liberties on page 11:
3. CIVIL LIBERTIES
We will be strong in defence of freedom
The Government believes that the British state has become too authoritarian,
and that over the past decade it has abused and eroded fundamental human
freedoms and historic civil liberties. We need to restore the rights of individuals
in the face of encroaching state power, in keeping with Britain’s tradition
of freedom and fairness.
• We will implement a full programme of measures to reverse the substantial
erosion of civil liberties and roll back state intrusion.
• We will introduce a Freedom Bill.
• We will scrap the ID card scheme, the National Identity Register and the
Contact Point Database, and halt the next generation of biometric passports.
• We will outlaw the fingerprinting of children at school without parental permission.
• We will extent the scope of the Freedom of Information Act to provide greater
• We will adopt the protections of the Scottish model for the DNA database.
• We will protect historic freedoms through the defence of trial by jury.
• We will restore rights to non-violent protest.
• We will review bye-laws to protect freedom of speech.
• We will introduce safeguards against the misuse of anti-terrorism regulation.
• We will further regulate CCTV.
• We will end the storage of internet and email records without good reason. • We will introduce a new mechanism to prevent the proliferation of unnecessary
new criminal offences.
• We will establish a Commission to investigate the creation of a British Bill of Rights
that incorporates and builds an all our obligations under the European Convention on
Human Rights and, ensures that these rights continue.
Note my bolding – this is a classic cop-out which could mean anything they want. As for reducing the amount of new legislation, a quick scan at the Legislation.Gov website would suggest otherwise:
Thanks to Captain Ranty for uncovering that.
Reading through the list above, it’s difficult to pick one promise they’ve carried out. But we should know better than to believe anything a politician says.
Back to my conspiracy theories – I know all about Proxy servers and VPN’s (although I’ve yet to go down the VPN route), but even those who do are not entirely safe. As many comments on the second article discuss, these methods just mark you out as “suspicious” to the authorities. Also note that encrypting your information is no use – refusal to disclose the password/key when asked leads to an automatic jail sentence. I found that link on this site, which is run by Rick Falkvinge, a founder member of the Pirate Party. They are facing a court battle for hosting their own proxy to The Pirate Bay, a well known indexing site used by many for “sharing” all sorts of material. Whilst there is little doubt that much P2P downloading is of questionable legality, particularly as regards copyright, some of it is not, and the UK court ordered block, which the proxy is designed to circumvent, has meant that an offshoot listing perfectly legal content has also been affected. This has now been unblocked after a major protest.
As noted in that story we now have a situation where private industry is calling the shots, and censoring UK web access, so it really doesn’t matter if government is whiter than white – a creeping malaise is undermining our freedoms. Oh, and don’t think “It won’t happen to me, because I’m overseas” – another story that you won’t have seen in the MSM concerns the actions of the Finnish police recently, when they raided the home of a 9 year old girl, and confiscated her laptop.
“It would have been easier for all concerned if you had paid the compensation,” the police advised
So rather than risk a potentially “interesting” court case they try and extract money by extortion. I understand that the girls father has now agreed to pay 200 euros, to avoid further consequences. You’ll also note that similar action is happening in the US – that paragon of freedom, where only a few days ago the website of David Vance was shut down on the say-so of one complaint from a disgruntled commenter. So don’t pretend that everything is rosy, because it damn well isn’t…
Since I started writing this earlier in the week, there appears to have been a minor capitulation, as reported by the Beeb, but it’s obvious that the intention to bring in some fairly drastic measures remains.