British government plan to jail journalists and whistleblowers


This video from Britain says about itself:

26 December 2016

Councils were given permission to carry out more than 55,000 days of covert surveillance over five years, including spying on people walking dogs, feeding pigeons and fly-tipping, the Guardian can reveal.

A mass freedom of information request has found 186 local authorities – two-thirds of the 283 that responded – used the government’s Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (Ripa) [‘against terrorism‘] to gather evidence via secret listening devices, cameras and private detectives.

Among the detailed examples provided were Midlothian council using the powers to monitor dog barking and Allerdale borough council gathering evidence about who was guilty of feeding pigeons.

Wolverhampton used covert surveillance to check on the sale of dangerous toys and car clocking; Slough to aid an investigation into an illegal puppy farm; and Westminster to crack down on the selling of fireworks to children.

Surveillance has gone too far.

Maybe British Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May, during her recent visit to dictator Erdogan in Turkey to sell him British weapons, saw the persecution of journalists and dissidents in Turkey, and thought that would be a good idea for Britain as well?

From daily News Line in Britain:

Monday, 13 February 2017

New Espionage Act under way to jail journalists and whistleblowers

THE Tory government is set to introduce a new Espionage Act under which its judiciary will be able to jail journalists and ordinary members of the public as spies for revealing information that the government demands be kept a secret.

The government’s advisers have recommended a ‘future-proofed’, draconian Act that will put leaking information and whistleblowing in the same category as spying for foreign powers and turn the UK into one big prison for basic democratic rights.

The plan is to treat whistleblowers, leakers and journalists as agents of a foreign power, even if they are British nationals, and even if they insisted that they were acting in the public interest. The recommendations of the UK Law Commission are contained in a 326-page consultation paper titled Protection of Official Data.

One legal expert said the new changes would see the maximum jail sentence increase from two years to 14 years; make it an offence to ‘obtain or gather’ rather than simply share official secrets; and to extend the scope of the law to cover information that damages ‘economic well-being’. ‘It is clearly an attempt to criminalise ordinary journalism,’ said Jim Killock, chief executive of the Open Rights Group.

John Cooper QC, a leading criminal and human rights barrister who has served on two Law Commission working parties, added: ‘These reforms would potentially undermine some of the most important principles of an open democracy.’

Jodie Ginsberg, chief executive of Index on Censorship, said: ‘The proposed changes are frightening and have no place in a democracy, which relies on having mechanisms to hold the powerful to account. It is unthinkable that whistleblowers and those to whom they reveal their information should face jail for leaking and receiving information that is in the public interest.’

Such official data will range from the secret plans of the government for running down the NHS, to the functioning of the nuclear power industry, or any strategic industry. The Law Commission report asks, rhetorically, if ‘sensitive information relating to the economy should be brought within the scope of the legislation… in so far as it relates to national security’.

Alan Rusbridger, the former Guardian editor who published the Snowden revelations has commented that: ‘It is alarming that such a far-reaching proposed reform of laws which could be used to jail whistleblowers and journalists should have been drafted without any adequate consultation with free speech organisations.’

According to the Commission, the proposed ‘redrafted offence’ of espionage would ‘be capable of being committed by someone who not only communicates information, but also by someone who obtains or gathers it’.

To emphasise that the enemy is the whole of society it is being stipulated that there should be ‘no restriction on who can commit the offence,’ from hackers, leakers, elected politicians, journalists, NGOs or just citizens who have got themselves into a situation where they just know too much as far as the government and its secret state is concerned.

Cited as a primary reason for the new legislation is the fact that the former Guardian editor Rusbridger could not be thrown into prison for handling copies of ten documents that were passed to his reporters by Edward Snowden. As it was state agents could only threaten him with a gagging order and prison, and then force him to destroy newspaper computers.

A proposed feature of the new legislation is that British Embassies abroad, intelligence and security offices, and data centres not officially publicised by the government would be designated as ‘prohibited places’ or ‘protected sites’, making it an offence to publish information about them or to ‘approach, inspect, pass over or enter’ for any ‘purpose prejudicial’ to national security.

The proposed law would replace four Official Secrets Acts dating back to 1911, as well as a raft of other government restrictions on releasing information, providing extra powers instead. There should be no statutory public-interest defence for anyone accused of offences, the Commission says.

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2 thoughts on “British government plan to jail journalists and whistleblowers

  1. Tuesday 14th February 2017

    posted by Morning Star in Britain

    INVESTIGATIVE journalists and whistleblowers will not have their freedom restricted, Downing Street insisted yesterday despite concerns over proposals to increase prison sentences for revealing state secrets.

    Campaigners have criticised a government-commissioned report as “an attack on democracy” after it recommended that whistleblowers should face up to 14 years in jail under the proposed changes to the Official Secrets Act.

    Prime Minister Theresa May’s deputy spokesman insisted: “It is not, never has been and never will be the policy of the government to restrict freedom of investigative journalism or public whistleblowing.”

    Journalists’ union NUJ, which represents 30,000 journalists, says it will vigorously oppose legislation that would render investigation into “espionage.”

    NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet said: “The ramifications of these recommendations are huge for journalists and for freedom of the press.

    “Journalists face being criminalised for simply doing their jobs, and the public’s right to know will be severely curtailed by these proposals.”

    http://morningstaronline.co.uk/a-cfdd-NUJ-warns-new-law-could-criminalise-journalists#.WKLLOPKbIdU

    Like

  2. Pingback: Donald Trump attacks press freedom | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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