Orwell’s 1984 fiction, 2015 British reality?


This video from Britain says about itself:

Tim Berners-Lee on the snoopers’ charter

28 May 2015

The inventor of the world-wide web, Tim Berners-Lee, talks to Krishnan Guru-Murthy about his opposition to Theresa May’s plans to increase snoopers’ charter powers.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

For Ms May, 1984 is tame

Thursday 5th November 2015

WHEN former US spook Edward Snowden leaked masses of classified National Security Agency (NSA) data two years ago, he did something heroic.

This is not because leaking classified intelligence is inherently virtuous or even because of the huge personal sacrifices Snowden made — giving up his well-paid job and his relationship and being forced to live in exile.

It is because he was committing a public service in revealing for the first time the astonishing scale of state surveillance that has become the norm in the West.

These revelations were met with horror.

The idea that every detail of your personal life, the contents of every message you send and the words of every phone call made could be listened to was shocking — indeed, it used to be a stock accusation the “liberal” West threw at socialist countries, particularly East Germany.

But what Snowden revealed, the vast and indiscriminate hoovering up of personal data by security agencies, was closer to the Big Brother is Watching You dystopia George Orwell dreaded than anything the Stasi could have managed.

These startling discoveries were compounded in February when the Investigatory Powers Tribunal ruled that the NSA and Britain’s GCHQ spy base had been unlawfully sharing data intercepted in bulk for over seven years.

None of this prompted any embarrassment, let alone any apology, from the British state for its abuse of citizens’ trust. Nobody from the security services was punished for breaking the law and ministers did not vow to rectify the situation — except in the sorry sense of Theresa May’s draft Bill, unveiled in the Commons yesterday.

If the measures you’re using to spy on your own people break the law, don’t change tactics — change the law.

The draft Bill suggests private web and phone companies will be required by law to retain the details of every website visited by everyone for 12 months, in case the police or the spooks decide they want a look.

A new legal obligation also forces companies to help the security services hack into computers and phones, to overcome any encryption technology citizens may try to hide behind.

And it explicitly endorses the bulk collection of data.

Supposedly there are safeguards. The Prime Minister will have to agree if the spies want to target an MP.

Given David Cameron’s hysterical rants about Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn being a threat to our national security, the Star remains unconvinced that the Tory leader will take a sober and cautious approach to such cases.

If police want warrants to intercept communications new judicial commissioners will have the right to veto the Home Secretary’s approval.

But as Tory MP David Davis and Liberty director Shami Chakrabarti note, this retrospective rubber-stamping exercise does not amount to proper judicial oversight.

Despite a welcome intervention by shadow home secretary Andy Burnham seeking assurances over blacklisting, Labour appear to be ready to accept this further erosion of our civil liberties.

Of course terrorist groups exist. Isis and other extremist groups do seek to convince young British people to take up arms and travel to warzones to torture and kill. There are groups who want to massacre ordinary citizens.

Marxists can point to the economic, political and social causes of what to most of us is inexplicable behaviour, but these do not counteract the need to defeat such groups and prevent atrocities.

Unfortunately, repeated revelations of state snooping on perfectly legitimate protest, state complicity in blacklisting and state persecution of trade unionists, environmental activists, feminists, communists and many other activists show that the British state is not a benevolent watchdog acting in the public interest.

It is the tool of our rulers which can and often is used against us. It cannot be trusted with the blanket powers the Conservative Party seeks to give it.

This video from Britain says about itself:

ITSG News: Investigatory Powers Bill – Snoopers Charter 2.0?

5 November 2015

In today’s news: The British Home Secretary, Theresa May, unveiled plans for sweeping new surveillance measures yesterday, including the right to find out which websites people visit and requiring communications companies to store customers’ phone and internet records for 12 months.

The draft Investigatory Powers Bill would also give agencies such as Mi5 and Mi6 a legal basis for hacking mobile and computer devices, remotely accessing everything stored within a device including messages, photos another data.

Peter Sommer, a digital evidence expert has explained the government’s reasoning behind the new bill, citing the encryption behind ever increasing internet communications diminishing the intelligence agencies’ ability to get information from interception. With applications such as Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp being protected via end-to-end encryption, the information at present is completely unreadable. By allowing Mi5 and the rest of the intelligence agencies to bypass encryption and access the data where it originates, the government is optimistic about being able to connect the dots in order to find and stop the terrorists before their attacks.

The so-called ‘Snooper’s Charter’ was first suggested 2012 before being blocked by the Liberal Democrats, who claimed the law was far too invasive. The new bill is a watered down version – however civil liberties groups are still condemning the government’s plans to obtain access to the personal data of millions of completely innocent citizens.

By Conrad Landin in Britain:

Web use stored for a year under snoopers’ charter

Thursday 5th November 2015

TORY platitudes on civil liberties are of no use when the government is sanctioning the surveillance of workers, Labour said yesterday as Theresa May unveiled plans to compel communications firms to help spies hack phones.

The Investigatory Powers Bill, dubbed the “snoopers’ charter,” will require internet providers to store records of people’s web and social media use for up to a year.

Home Secretary Ms May said the blueprint would leave “no area of cyberspace which is a haven for those who seek to harm us to plot, poison minds and peddle hatred under the radar.”

She won praise from her Labour opposite number Andy Burnham for introducing extra safeguards to protect the civil liberties of the public — including a “double lock” approval system for surveillance requests, where judges can veto warrants signed off by ministers.

But hero US whistleblower spy Edward Snowden said the new law “legitimises mass surveillance.”

“It is the most intrusive and least accountable surveillance regime in the West,” he said. “[The] snoopers’ charter does not require individualised judicial authorisation in advance of interception. Such a dragnet is mass surveillance.”

Mr Burnham warned of “fears in some communities, particularly the Muslim community, that the powers will be used against them disproportionately.”

And he warned: “We have seen in the past how police powers have been wrongly used against trade unionists.

“The government are legislating in the Trade Union Bill to impose new requirements on trade unionists in respect of the use of social media and on the monitoring of it by the police.

“As [Tory MP] David Davis said, this isn’t Franco’s Britain. Can the Home Secretary see that to continue to build on the trust she has created and the good start that she has made today, the government should drop some of its more divisive rhetoric and measures, starting with the measures in the Trade Union Bill?”

Mr Burnham’s comments came as the Pitchford inquiry into undercover policing, commissioned by Ms May in March, reconvened for a further preliminary hearing. “Core participants” including blacklisted workers and women who were targeted by undercover officers via sexual relationships were granted the right to be represented by lawyers of their own choosing.

Taxpayers are set to fork out a whopping £247 million for the Bill’s implementation.

Investigatory Powers Bill could allow Government to ban end-to-end encryption, technology powering iMessage and WhatsApp. Theresa May said while introducing the legislation that it didn’t include a controversial plan to ban the important technology – but it does allow Government to force companies to get around it: here.

SHAMI CHAKRABARTI explains how the new surveillance Bill would allow spies and police to hack into our devices on an unprecedented scale. LIBERTY has called for a fundamental overhaul of our surveillance laws for years — so we awaited last week’s draft Investigatory Powers Bill with bated breath: here.

18 thoughts on “Orwell’s 1984 fiction, 2015 British reality?

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  2. Saturday 21st november 2015

    posted by Morning Star in Britain

    A CROSS-BENCH MP alliance is bringing the fight over surveillance legislation to Europe, it was announced yesterday.

    Conservative MP David Davis, Labour’s Tom Watson and others launched their latest court bid against the Tory “snoopers’ charter” at the Court of Appeal in London yesterday.

    Lord Justice Patten, Lord Justice Lloyd Jones and Lord Justice Vos said they had come to the conclusion that they should refer two questions to the Court of Justice of the European Union.

    In July, two High Court judges declared the 2014 Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act ‘‘inconsistent with EU law.”

    This ruling was appealed by the government last month.

    http://morningstaronline.co.uk/a-6375-Dripa-set-for-EU-courts#.VlBaM7_iMdU

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  4. Monday 1st February 2016

    posted by Morning Star in Britain

    by Our News Desk

    PROPOSED Tory “snooping” laws are unclear and confusing, according to the Commons science and technology committee report published today.

    The panel of MPs says a number of terms in the Investigatory Powers Bill are poorly defined, leading to worries among technology firms over implementation costs.

    It said the Bill risks undermining Britain’s technology sector and should be urgently reviewed.

    The committee also raised concerns about powers to allow spies to hack suspects’ smartphones.

    Tory committee chairwoman Nicola Blackwood said: “We need our security services to be able to do their job and prevent terrorism, but as legislators we need to be careful not to inadvertently disadvantage the UK’s rapidly growing tech sector.

    “The current lack of clarity within the draft Investigatory Powers Bill is causing concern amongst businesses. There are widespread doubts over the definition, not to mention the definability, of a number of the terms used in the draft Bill.”

    One row surrounds the proposed duty to store “internet connection records,” which Ms Blackwood says is a “very broad and ambiguous” term.

    The report also cites concerns that citizens will react angrily to provisions for technology companies to be complicit in “equipment interference” by security services, which can range from remotely accessing a computer to downloading the contents of a mobile phone.

    The government has sought to reassure technology companies by promising to reimburse the entire costs of storing data held on snoopees.

    http://morningstaronline.co.uk/a-06fb-Snoopers-Charter-unclear-and-confusing,-MPs-say#.Vq-SoeZrgdU

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