Against British government spying on citizens, new campaign

This video from Britain is called:

What is the ‘Snoopers Charter’?

13 January 2015

The Conservatives have said they will revive Communications Data Bill plans if they win May’s General Election. But what is the “Snoopers Charter”? Report by Claire Lomas.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

‘Freedom of expression’ anti-snooping campaign launched over Ripa changes

Campaigners fear draft code of Ripa legislation will allow police sweeping powers to access phone and email records of journalists, lawyers and doctors

Alan Travis and Jane Martinson

Tuesday 13 January 2015 19.17 GMT

An urgent campaign has been launched for a “freedom of expression” law to protect confidential journalists’, MPs’ and lawyers’ phone and communications records being secretly snooped on by the police.

Senior editors and lawyers condemned as “wholly inadequate” safeguards put forward by Theresa May in December to meet concerns over the police use of surveillance powers in a code of practice linked to the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (Ripa).

The critics of the draft code fear that the police will still have sweeping powers allowing them to authorise themselves to access the phone and email records of professionals such as journalists, lawyers, doctors, MPs and priests who handle privileged, confidential information.

More than 3,000 national and regional editors are being asked to sign a joint letter from the Society of Editors and Press Gazette, the industry’s journal, condemning the Home Office joint code for failing to recognise “the overarching importance of protecting journalists’ sources”.

The campaign comes as the prime minister, David Cameron, called for an extension of the laws that give snooping powers to security services with a plan to ban encrypted messages in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo Paris attacks.

Bob Satchwell of the Society of Editors added: “It is vitally important that everyone in the media makes it clear just how important this issue has become. Journalism isn’t a crime and should not be treated as such.”

May had offered to provide guidance over the existing police powers after it emerged that the Metropolitan police had secretly accessed the phone records of Sun journalist Tom Newton Dunn in order to find people who had leaked him information in the Plebgate affair.

But Dominic Ponsford of Press Gazette warned: “The government’s draft Ripa code is a licence for the state to spy on journalists’ phone records at will. It allows police forces to approve their own requests for journalists call records provided they make a note of their target’s profession.

“It means that police forces will be able to continue to track down and punish lawful journalistic sources (as was the case with the Met Police and the Sun’s Plebgate sources),” he said. “The guidance makes no mention of the overriding public interest in protecting journalists’ sources.”

Alistair MacDonald, QC, chairman of the Bar Council, said that the Charlie Hebdo attack should not allow such spying powers to go through unchallenged: “The Paris murders by extremist gunmen who were known to the security and police services, have already attracted considerable support for an extension of surveillance powers,” said MacDonald.

“That surveillance can save lives seems undeniable. However, it is one of the objectives of extremists who are willing to commit barbaric crimes in support of purportedly religious or political ends, that the hard-won liberties of the civil population should be curtailed and that a wedge should be driven between those in society with different views about the degree to which personal freedoms should be sacrificed on the altar of public safety,” he said.

However, despite the emerging objections Home Office ministers look set to back changes next week that would allow the police to carry on secretly snooping on confidential professional phone and web records at will.

They appear to be set to reinforce David Cameron’s pledge on Monday “not to allow any means of communications which it simply isn’t possible [for the authorities] to read.” That indicated that the Conservatives wanted to be able to break into encrypted communications.

Following those remarks, the senior journalists and lawyers launched the “last ditch” campaign and say that at the very least an independent judge should have to consider the case to protect the identity of their sources before police can access journalists’, lawyers and other professionals’ phone records.

The journalists concern is the unfettered use of the powers under Ripa will mean that public sector whistleblowers and other key sources will not come forward in future if the law enforcement agencies have the power to view journalists’ phone records at will. They argue the practice amounts to state interference with press freedom.

Press Gazette has since established police forces conducted more than 400 official investigations into leaks to the media.

The campaign has some political support from elsewhere in the coalition. On Monday, the deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, also cited the use of the Ripa surveillance laws to obtain journalists’ records as a prime example of measures introduced in the name of “public safety” that actually “undermine the very freedoms we cherish”.

But the Home Office consultation on proposed changes to the Ripa code of practice which closes next Tuesday has suggested doing little more than requiring the authorising officer to give “additional consideration” to the level of intrusion in cases involving professionally confidential or privileged information and record each time an application is made.

If pushed, ministers have suggested they might also require the police to flag all applications to the interception of communications commissioner, who oversees the use of the surveillance powers.

MacDonald, said: “As a caring society, we cannot simply leave surveillance issues to senior officers of the police and the security services acting purportedly under mere codes of practice. What is surely needed more than ever before is a rigorous statutory framework under which surveillance is authorised and conducted.”

British Prime Minister Wants To Ban Online Messaging Unless The Government Is Allowed To Read Them: here.

Ever liked a film on Facebook? You’ve given the security services a key to your soul. The most banal acts on Facebook can add up to an accurate psychological profile, according to new research: here.

USA: The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has been overseeing and co-directing mass surveillance programs run by the National Security Agency (NSA) since at least 2008, a newly declassified document from the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) of the Department of Justice (DOJ) shows: here.

7 thoughts on “Against British government spying on citizens, new campaign

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