Friday, 14 June 2013

You know you're on the right side of civil liberties when...

...Jack Straw, David Blunkett and Alan Johnson are on the other. These were the men who felt it was alright to hold people for 90 days without trial in this country. A figure that if I recall at the time would have left us only behind Russia, Georgia and China (I stand to be corrected on these facts) and the unfortunates at Guantanamo Bay.

One advantage of having a blog that is almost 8 years old is that I actually blogged about the result of that vote on 90 days back in 2005. It was of course under their successor Harriet Harman that the Digital Economy Bill got rushed through Parliament in the dying days of the last Government.

So the debate now is should we allow a snoopers charter. Or at least publicly acknowledge on as it appears that America's National Security Agency (NSA) has already been doing just that in operation Prism.  Of course the really determined could probably still access information without having to go online, apparently there are places called libraries that have information on all kinds of stuff. As for planning meetings with co-conspirators. A text saying meet you at X, is innocuous. But then I doubt terrorist planners are likely to text

"Gentlemen, meet me at the Duck and Drake Sun 20th, we need to discuss blowing up Parliament. GF x"

or the equivalent.

Just like with tapping phones, police already have the ability to acquire warrants to follow everyone's text and emails. With mobile broadband and wireless connectivity these days it is harder to keep track on individual computers and what they are seeing. Something that the snoopers charter still fails monumentally to address.

Knee-jerk reactions, like the Digital Economy Act 2010 show that Government is willing to blame things on the internet, whether through lack of knowledge or understanding. But at time fails to grasp the complexities and also the fact that those who want to hide can actually do that very well online.

1 comment:

  1. My memory may be faulty but I had understood that the police, prosecutors and the Home Office do not wish to use phone tapping in evidence in prosecutions for reasons which I suspect boil down to revealing the amount that goes on and that is presumably approved (despite the safeguards that allegedly exist to control it). It was on this basis that the much more oppressive attempts to gather intelligence, such as the Snoopers Charter, have been mounted. My presumption (with my introductory rider) is that they wish to conceal the deeper scope of their activities by a broad brush catch-all. The continuing leit motif is of course the Home Office's perpetual wish to oppress and control the population