The security services are already snooping on us – why aren’t we out in the streets about it?

A Snooper: This woman has been allowing police and security services to monitor your phone and Internet communications - illegally. Now her government wants to rush through a law to make it legal, without proper scrutiny.

A Snooper: This woman has been allowing police and security services to monitor your phone and Internet communications – illegally. Now her government wants to rush through a law to make it legal, without proper scrutiny.

No matter what Nick Clegg might say, the Coalition government will be reintroducing – and rushing into effect – Theresa May’s long-cherished Snooper’s Charter on Monday.

This is her plan to ride roughshod over your right to privacy by requiring telecommunications companies to keep a complete record of all of your telephone and Internet communications. While the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Bill does not include the content of the calls or messages, it does include the location of the people called, the date and time of the call and the telephone number called.

Theresa May’s Snooper’s Charter would have called on telecoms firms to record the time, duration, originator and recipient of every communication and the location of the device from which it was made.

Anybody who cannot see the similarities between these two would have to be blind and stupid.

Apparently the move has been necessitated by a European Court of Justice ruling in April saying current laws invaded individual privacy.

This means that the government has been doing, already, what it proposes to enshrine in law now.

But hang on a moment – this court ruling was made in April. In April? And they’re just getting round to dealing with it now?

Perhaps they were busy. But no! This is the Zombie Parliament, that has been criticised for muddling along with nothing to do, so it can’t be that.

It seems far more likely that this Bill has been timed to be pushed through without any consideration by, or consultation with, civil society – in order to restrict our ability to question what is nothing less than an attack on our freedom.

Cameron is desperate to justify his government monitoring everything you do: “The ability to access information about communications and intercept the communications of dangerous individuals is essential to fight the threat from criminals and terrorists targeting the UK.”

It isn’t about fighting any threat from criminals or terrorists, though, is it? It’s about threatening you.

Has anybody here forgotten the disabled lady who received a midnight visit from the police, at her home, in relation to comments she had posted on Facebook about the Department for Work and Pensions’ cuts?

She told Pride’s Purge: “They told me they had come to investigate criminal activity that I was involved in on Facebook… They said complaints had been made about posts I’d made on Facebook.”

Facebook is an internet communication, not a telephone communication – so you know that the security services have already been overstepping their mark. This was in 2012.

There’s always the good old postal service, embodied in the recently-privatised Royal Mail – which has been examining your correspondence for decades. You will, of course, have heard that all your correspondence with HM Revenue and Customs about taxes, and all your correspondence with the DWP about benefits, is opened and read by employees of a private company before it gets anywhere near a government employee who may (or may not) have signed the Official Secrets Act. No? Apparently some secrets are better-kept then others.

If you want proof about the monitoring of letters, I’ll repeat my story about a young man who was enjoying a play-by-mail game with other like-minded people. A war game, as it happens. They all had codenames, and made their moves by writing letters and putting them in the post (this was, clearly, before the internet).

One day, this young fellow arrived home from work (or wherever) to find his street cordoned off and a ring of armed police around it.

“What’s going on?” he asked a burly uniformed man who was armed to the teeth.

“Oh you can’t come through,” he was told. “We’ve identified a terrorist group in one of these houses and we have to get them out.”

“But I live on this street,” said our hero, innocently. “Which house is it?”

The constable told him.

“But that’s my house!” he said.

And suddenly all the guns were pointing at him.

They had reacted to a message he had sent, innocently, as part of the game. They’d had no reason to open the letter, but had done it anyway and, despite the fact that it was perfectly clear that it was part of a game, over-reacted.

What was the message?

“Ajax to Achilles: Bomb Liverpool!”

Neither of these two incidents should have taken place but many more are inevitable if this legislation goes the distance and allows the government to legitimise its current – illegal – actions.

One last point: It should be remembered that this is a government composed mainly of a political party with one member, still active, who managed to lose (or should that be ‘lose’) no less than 114 files on child abuse – files that could have put hugely dangerous people behind bars 30 years ago. Instead, with the files lost, it seems these individuals were permitted to continue perpetrating these heinous crimes.

Now, this government is launching an inquiry into historic child abuse by high-profile people, headed by a woman who is herself tainted by association with some of the accused, and by some of the attitudes she has expressed.

It is a government that should put its own House in order before it asks us to give up our privacy and let it look inside ours.

Or, as Frankie Boyle tweeted:

140711surveillance

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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17 thoughts on “The security services are already snooping on us – why aren’t we out in the streets about it?

  1. Colin M. Taylor

    And who knows what other ;Sundry Purposes’ will be included?
    I thought Government IT Projects suffered from serious Function Creep. This lot take the biscuit
    this is a classic case of ‘Legislate in Haste, Repent at leisure’

  2. jaypot2012

    We all know that this is about him, his party and his friends (does he have any?)
    Monitor my mails, I hardly send any, monitor my calls, I hardly phone anyone. Looking for terrorists – well I’m not one but I am a hater of Cameron, the tory party and the snotty nosed toffs.
    Will they come fetch me in the middle of the night ‘cos I’ve called Cameron the doziest, idiotic, pathetic excuse for a man? I don’t care, at least I’d get three meals a day…

  3. forcemajeure007

    Reblogged this on forcemajeure007 and commented:
    Like I’ve said before, in the UK,’democracy is a mask for dictatorship!’
    How to be a politician: Behave as if the law doesn’t apply to you, and then when you get caught doing something illegal you can then change the law, so that it’s not illegal, and make it retroactive so that it applies even before it was made, then it’s like you never really broke the law in the first place…..

  4. beastrabban

    Reblogged this on Beastrabban’s Weblog and commented:
    This is a timely warning by Mike about the dangers of the government’s ‘snoopers’ charter’. It won’t just target terrorists, but also ordinary citizens posting their perfectly reasonable opinions on political matters, like the lady who got a visit from the rozzers for posting her views on the DWP on facebook. As for all the claims that there are safeguards placed on this legislation, because it will have to be renewed every two years, just remember the case of the Third Reich. Hitler’s dictatorship was set up through the German constitution authorising the president to take on dictatorial powers during a state of emergency. These powers could last only as long as the emergency did. And so every four years, the Reichstag assembled to declare that the emergency was still continuing, and that therefore they needed Adolf to continue being dictator. This clause within the government’s snoopers’ charter only acts as a check if there is the political will for it to be so. And I see absolutely no evidence of that. Quite the contrary, in fact.

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  6. Sven Radio

    Well I wish you’d make your mind up. One minute you’re not supporting the Teachers, Firemen, and Council workers strike wholeheartedly, although apparently you did stay off work reluctantly. Now you’re saying we should take to the streets! Why don’t you advocate a revolution and get the people really riled…and then we can tear down the bloody lot

    1. Mike Sivier

      I wish YOU would check who’s writing the posts before you attribute them all to the same person. As I mentioned before, the one about the strike was by Alex Little; this one is by me.
      We have different viewpoints.

  7. William

    How very much like the closing years of the Imperial Roman Empire, that economically went bust, brought in tens of thousands of immigrants, and then was in fear of being attacked from within so a vast network of spying was set up. We may well be sure, like Rome, that the hirearchy will not come under any sanctions for what it is up too. The country has now crossed the Rubicon.

    1. Mike Sivier

      You mean the barbarians are at the gates. The crossing of the Rubicon was something Julius Caesar did, marking the last point at which he could have turned back before committing himself to war with his opponents in Rome, that eventually led to him becoming Emperor and setting the city on its own path to historical significance.
      That bit of nitpicking aside, you make a very good point.

  8. gretalsnape

    Everything like this is done under the guise of terrorism (I don’t doubt there is some threat lurking out there) but does it warrant this? Public is complacent, working under the assumption they have nothing to fear if they haven’t done anything wrong but why should someone read my e-mails, listen to my phone calls – I don’t listen to theirs (though I do not have facility to do this and nor do I want it). Looks as if history is repeating its self and somebody loves the blue print of 1984. Frightening!

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