British government spying on citizens, documentary

This April 2016 video from Britain says about itself:

Brought to you by Scenes of Reason, The Haystack documentary is a real life investigation into 21st century surveillance in the UK and the Investigatory Powers (IP) Bill currently before Parliament.

In light of Snowden’s revelations in 2013, both privacy groups and our government agree that the laws surrounding surveillance need to be updated, but public debate and examination of the Bill have been shockingly limited on an issue that impacts us all. The Haystack explores whether the powers set out in this Bill will stop the next terrorist attack, and asks, are we willing to accept an unimaginable level of intrusion before it’s too late?


In late 2015 Scenes of Reason decided to take action and do what they do best; decode complicated topics for young millennials in order to stimulate debate. A team of four young female journalists wanted answers to both the simple and complex questions surrounding surveillance. Producer and director, Olivia Cappuccini states;

“At a time when the U.S are rolling back their surveillance powers, we need to be asking why the UK isn’t following suit, and instead pushing forward with an unprecedented Bill that is more intrusive and could seriously challenge our fundamental civil liberties in the name of national security.”

Scenes of Reason set out to present a balanced debate on the effectiveness, necessity and intent behind mass surveillance powers but found that it will never be a simple accept or deny conclusion. We interviewed a host of the biggest players in the surveillance space; ex director of GCHQ David Omand and National Security Agency whistleblower Bill Binney to name a few, and put the main arguments both for and against mass surveillance to them.

For more information, additional content, visit:

The Investigatory Powers Bill (IPB) has been passed by Britain’s Parliament and is due to become law early next year, requiring only Royal Assent from the queen. On November 16, the House of Lords approved the final version of the Investigatory Powers Bill—widely known as the Snoopers’ Charter. The Bill was already passed in the House of Commons by 444 to 69 last June on a third reading, with no opposition from the Labour Party. The Lords proposed some minor amendments, most of which were rejected: here.

How the UK passed the most invasive surveillance law in democratic history: here.

A recent leaked document highlights how the UK Conservative government intends to spy on thousands of internet and phone users in real-time. Its proposed measures dramatically weaken the ability to protect privacy through the use of encryption: here.

15 thoughts on “British government spying on citizens, documentary

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  4. Saturday 1st April 2017

    posted by Morning Star in Features

    With our phones and internet tapped, Western governments are making a mockery of free speech, writes RICHARD RUDKIN

    FOLLOWING the horrendous cold-blooded murder of a policeman and a number of civilians on Westminster Bridge on Wednesday March 22, Theresa May stated: “Those values — free speech, liberty, human rights and the rule of law — are embodied here in this place but they are shared by the people around the free world.”

    May was not alone, MPs from all sides of the house waxed lyrical about the so-called free speech and democracy we enjoy. However, this incident, along with previous acts and threats of terrorism since 2001, I believe, have been used by successive governments to remove our true freedoms and replace them with the Establishment’s version of “freedom.”

    Let’s bury the myth of “free speech.” Yes, we can openly criticise our government but we don’t have freedom of speech. Most definitions of freedom will include concepts such as personal liberty, self-determination, liberation from confinement, restrictions and restraints. But can anyone really say we have unrestrained speech?

    An old saying goes: “I may not agree with what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” However, it seems this has now been replaced with: “I am offended by what you said. I have reported it to the police who will investigate you; hopefully bring charges forcing you to go to court where, fingers crossed, the magistrate will send you to prison for saying it.”

    Moreover, we no longer even have to speak. Writing your thoughts on social media could be enough to have the boys in blue knocking on your door as Debra Burt found in 2013.

    Burt was having a conversation on Facebook with a friend regarding the cuts imposed by David Cameron. Knowing he was soon to visit near to where she lived, Burt joked: “I’d like to egg him.”

    Her comments led to the police spending four weeks tracking her before visiting her and satisfying themselves that she was not a “threat.”

    Granted, no government can sit back and do nothing when faced with a threat of terrorism.

    During the the Troubles in Northern Ireland, Special Branch would frequently stop people at airports and sea ports and carry out “random,” and sometimes not-so-random, searches and questioning.

    Indeed, I was stopped, searched and questioned when I returned to Manchester from Belfast in 1972.

    Also, as a precaution, waste paper bins were removed from airports, train stations, ferry ports and bus stations. Left luggage areas were closed and any passenger foolish enough to leave luggage unattended could return to find the item had been dealt with by the bomb squad.

    Parking restrictions were also enforced to reduce the danger of car bombs. All these actions made perfect sense, yet despite the frequent bomb threats from various terrorist groups, for most of us life went on mainly unaffected.

    Following the Birmingham pub bombings in November 1974 which killed 21 people and injured 182, Roy Jenkins, the home secretary in the Wilson-led Labour government, announced the Prevention of Terrorism Act 1974. It was a temporary act and therefore had to be renewed every year. This gave the police and security services emergency powers to arrest and detain whomever they suspected terrorism.

    The act contained “exclusion orders” that could be used against suspected terrorists to prevent them from entering Britain. Even Jenkins himself described these new powers as draconian.

    In 2001, it was obvious the attack on the US was going to transform things forever.

    Tony Blair instigated the changes that would lead to the situation we have today where a British government, in response to a terrorist threat or action, brings in new legislation that erodes more of our freedoms and privacy.

    The irony is that these are the very principles that Western governments have claimed to be defending for centuries. This illusion is sold to the people as “keeping us safe.”

    In truth, we have allowed the government to instigate mass surveillance of citizens, supported by antiterror laws that enable the police and other government agencies to use without the need for seeking permission through the courts. In some cases, these laws can stop protests, restrict crowd numbers or who can attend.

    Today, our emails, internet activity and mobile phone records of who we contact and when are stored.

    Our movements are recorded on CCTV, by bank card transactions and satnavs in our vehicles.

    It is blatantly obvious that successive governments have managed, with the help of the mainstream media, to sell us this new illusion of freedom. in the same way that the minimum wage has been accepted as the living wage.

    Now the internet is the target for the government. Should it be up to the government of the day to decide what is or isn’t appropriate? Is there not a danger of political censorship?

    Should we not be more concerned about the direction and power we have given to successive governments then the threat of terrorism? While efforts must be made to stop people being dragged into terrorism, shouldn’t it be done in away that ensures freedom of choice.

    As we face this prospect, it is worth remembering the words of one of the founding fathers of the United States Benjamin Franklin, who wrote: “Those who give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither safety or security.”


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