Monday, 2 April 2012

Ok, so this is not an April Fool after all...

When I read in the media yesterday about plans by the Government to put in place measures that can track all our activity online and on the phone in real time; I thought great April fool, a little close to the bone perhaps.

Now instead I realise that in fact this is the real deal, the proof that the Coalition is Continuity New Labour. We live in a free society in theory, EU Directives have done their best to smash this up and in some ways the European Court of Human Rights has tried to protect some basic rights. But this bill is nonsense, worse it seems from the text of the EU directive that as usual our Government has sought to gold plate the regulations.

As per usual this is all said to be in the name of catching terrorists and organised crime (apart from random acts of violence what sort of crime is not organised?). However, this comes from the same disastrous type of 'terrorist legisaltion' that led to Councils using powers to snoop on people to see if they lived in school catchment areas. Well, we have these excessive RIPA already, there is no need to extend them further, more over as can be seen from the Telegraph article, they are abused completely by bureaucracy once in place and only used a tiny fraction of the time for the purposes intended:

Imagine, every internet search you did could incriminate you - search for ways to reduce your tax burden and whack, around come the plod accusing you of plotting tax evasion. I support Leeds United, sadly there is hooligan element to the support, being seen looking at websites perhaps I will be linked to that too? Even if its all untrue, mud sticks and the UK Police have earned their reputation for collaborating with reporters in recent years.

How Liberal and Conservative MP's and Peers can ever vote for this nonsense is beyond me; it is not like Orwell's, it is Orwell's 1984.

David Davis is very sound in the package above on this issue - but will he be a lone voice?

I have been trying to find a way of of living in the UK for a while without success, passing laws like this will make me more desperate to protect my basic rights from an authoritarian state.


Steven_L said...

These debates always ignore the facts. In the right circumstances, I can already:-

* seize peoples computers, have them analysed and look at all the relevant emails and documents.

* request copies of people's bank statements

And this whole thing about having to get a warrant from the Magistrates to look at communications data or spy on someone is a red herring too.

Because of all the bad press, RIPA has to go through very senior management. It would be easier to use my rights of audience at the Mags court to get one.

Nick Drew said...

the whole thing is indeed odd (almost like a diversionary tactic?)

while agreeing fully with CU's basic sentiment, it should be noted that the security services can (and do) do pretty much all this already, they have Many Years Of Operational Experience

is Someone deliberately picking a fight?

CityUnslicker said...

SL - How do you marry that with the report in the Telegraph that 3 million RIPA warrants have been made then...exceptional circumstances.hmm.

ND - Of course they CAN do it, the key for me is whether it is permissible in Court and how public the data is (i.e with huge chunks of the civil service having access to it without much trouble).

Alexi sale said...

I just don't care about this at all.

Steven_L said...

I never said anything about 'exceptional'. Now personally I've done very few RIPA's as I hardly ever need to.

But say a private dick working for a trade mark owner complains that someone on eBay is selling fake gear. Now that is an offence under S92 of the Trade Marks Act 1994, punishable by up to 10 years in the clink.

I can get a complete transaction history from eBay in 2 weeks tops just using my powers under the TMA94, it's not a RIPA matter even.

Then, as long as I'm happy there is enough offending to convince a Magistrate to give me a warrant, I'll pop down the court one morning and get one. Then I can enter their home (we do it with the Police) by force if necessary.

Then I can seize their computer and have a forensic analyst recover all the relevant files from it.

That might all sound heavy handed, but take it up with Nike, Ralph Lauren, Adidas, Puma, Proctor and Gamble etc who all lobbied to get this on the statute books.

It's there now and it's the law. The local authorities that refuse to investigate counterfeiting are the ones acting illegally.

alan said...

We have not developed democratic rules to govern the database & internet world. It is a brand new fronter. There must, at minimum, be equivalence.

In a democratic society where the citizen is transparent to the state, the state must be equally transparent to its citizens.

By far the biggest problem is the imbalance of power.

Citizens must start demanding equivalence. The government must make public all web history, emails etc of all members of the state to crack down on the misuse of power & corruption.

ND - Agreed they already do it. However to do it better needs large amounts of money being spent. Look at the NSA in the USA. data centres that dwarf google/facebook etc.

Anonymous said...

"Labour, of course pushed for something similar a few years ago"


Steven_L said...

Looking at the directive (well found that man) it looks like the requirement will be for the ISP's to retain what (in RIPA speak) is billing and subscriber data.

The directive clearly states:

No data revealing the content of the communication may be
retained pursuant to this Directive.

I'd imagine there would be some serious technical difficulties with actually doing what the directive wants the ISP's to do, with wifi, pay-go and floating IP addresses etc it won't be a good way of tracing criminals anyway.

All RIPA checks on mobile phones belonginbg to proper criminals that don't want to be identified come back as "unregistered pay as you go" as it is (unsuprisingly).

A better directive to fight cross border crime would be one allowing the UK to sue countries like Spain for allowing fraudsters to operate unimpeeded.

Dick the Prick said...

Unlike Steven_L's scary scenario of suddenly realising you're fucked, for a lot of the serious stuff I just kinda assumed it went on anyway.

If you can't use intercept evidence in court, and it sounds that this falls a bit short of the Yankee Patriot Act, then any bullshit about terrorism takes us all for mugs. I hardly think that GCHQ are phoning up Google to check out if i'm got a burd flu ampule in my pocket and getting a train to Euston only to find out if i've been bashing the bishop over penguin porn again; it's the waddle, the excuse me.

Bill Quango MP said...

Pick up a penguin.
A whole new meaning.

Budgie said...

CU, an excellent post, and I generally agree with what you have said. There is of course the EU behind all this, suitably gold plated by foaming Dave Spartian UK apparatchiks, lickspittles and prodnoses.

Bill Quango MP said...

Guido seems to think this a flyer.
Something for the backbenchers to foam about that can be withdrawn and therefore show a 'listening' government.

I wish that were true.

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Moggsy said...

If it happens they will say it is to necessary to keep us SAFE!! from TERRORISM!! and serious crime.

Then before you know it some spotty kid from the local government will be digging through your emails to check you didn't fib about where you live in a school application.