Tag Archives: Inforrm’s blog

RIPA is not fit for purpose – Inforrm’s Blog

police

Inforrm’s Blog tells us: The Home Affairs Committee (HAC) has now published its report on the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA). The chairman of the committee, Keith Vaz, has announced that:

“RIPA is not fit for purpose. We were astonished that law enforcement agencies failed to routinely record the professions of individuals who have had their communications data accessed under the legislation. Using RIPA to access telephone records of journalists is wrong and this practice must cease.”

RIPA allows public authorities, such as the police, to secretly request telephone providers to make available one’s telecommunications data. This data shows from where, to whom and for how long calls were made. The HAC report revealed that last year there were 514,608 requests for such data made under RIPA.

RIPA effectively allows the police to bypass the protections accorded to journalistic privilege in the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE) which oblige the police to apply to the court for a warrant to obtain journalistic material.

The concern amongst journalists that RIPA may be deterring whistleblowers from coming forward has been echoed by Keith Vaz.

The HAC report adds that “the whole process appears secretive and disorganised with information being destroyed afterwards... Wwe are concerned that the level of secrecy surrounding the use of RIPA allows investigating authorities to engage in acts which would be unacceptable in a democracy, with inadequate oversight.”

The blog site has further information so give it a visit.

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“Hello, my name is The Daily Mail, and I twist your words”

Inforrm’s Blog provides this informative insight into how the Daily Mail reports stories about the NHS:

Read the excesses of parts of the British Press for long enough and one gets quite hardened to distortions, misreporting and twisting of the truth.

But every now and again something so horribly ugly and mean comes along that it stops you in your tracks.

So it is with one case involving Dr Kate Granger. She is the heroic woman medical registrar battling an incurable cancer who started the “Hello my name is…” campaign.

At the last count her campaign to improve patient experiences in the NHS had recorded 26 million Twitter impressions.

Dr Granger has become an international phenomenon. She decided to stop her own treatment when, as she put it “the costs started to outweigh the benefits” and went back to work in Wakefield looking after elderly patients while continuing to campaign for more person-centred care.

Her husband, Chris Pointon, has just extracted a sort of apology from The Daily Mail through a complaint to the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) for an appalling distortion of her speech to the NHS Confederation conference in June.

Under the headline “How NHS dehumanises patients, by doctor 32, who is dying of a rare form of cancer,” The Daily Mail ran a 750-word hatchet job that vilifies the NHS and grossly misrepresents what she said. It strings accurate but out-of-context snippets of the speech and uses them as ammunition to bash the health service.

The really odd thing about the report is that it completely misses out any mention of her campaign or that she is completely dedicated to the NHS.

To twist what somebody has to say that much is bad enough under any circumstances; but to do so when she has only weeks left to live and has dedicated her life to improving the NHS is almost unspeakable.

There’s more – so visit the article on Inforrm’s Blog to read it.

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Hidden plan for ministers to axe laws that protect you – with a penstroke

Gone in a penstroke: If the Deregulation Bill becomes law, Acts of Parliament that protect your freedom could be removed from the statute book at a minister's whim.

Gone in a penstroke: If the Deregulation Bill becomes law, Acts of Parliament that protect your freedom could be removed from the statute book at a minister’s whim.

I have spent much of today putting old paperwork through the shredder in advance of tomorrow’s debate on the Deregulation Bill.

Why? Hidden among the plans to revoke ancient laws regulating pigsties is a clause that revokes the freedom of the press – in particular, the freedom of journalists to protect their sources.

The Conservatives and Liberal Democrats don’t want reporters to be able to protect political whistleblowers and the information they release from state harassment and confiscation.

Vox Political has long warned that the Coalition government was pushing us towards totalitarianism, and that is exactly what this apparently innocuous – but in fact deeply pernicious – piece of legislation proves.

We’ve had the gagging law, to silence organised dissent; we know that police chiefs want to use water cannons to stifle public protest; now we are faced with a cloak-and-dagger scheme to silence the press.

The removal of these privileges means the media will be unable to report anything that does not meet government approval – or face confiscation of equipment including computers, notebooks, recordings and correspondence that will lead to the identification of people who provide information that the government wants hushed up.

As a blogger who is also a qualified journalist, this directly affects me – and that is why I have been destroying paperwork. Tomorrow is only the Bill’s second reading – it must go through the committee stage, report stage and third reading before moving on to the House of Lords – but it is better to be well-prepared than to be caught napping.

Far more insidious than this, however, is the other part of this ‘red tape-cutting’ Bill that goes unmentioned. The really harmful part…

The part that says ministers should have the power to revoke any law they like, using statutory instruments (at the stroke of a pen) rather than taking the issue to a democratic vote in Parliament and, you know, actually telling anybody about it.

This means freedoms we have enjoyed for centuries-  or just a few years – could be removed with no prior notice, under the pretext of getting rid of ‘red tape’.

We would certainly be living in a police state if this were allowed to happen.

So here’s the big question: Do you think your MP even knows about this?

I only know because I read it on Another Angry Voice – from which site this article has swiped much of its information.

In his article, AAV creator Thomas G. Clark points out: “The Tories that devised this scheme… are clearly relying on the vast majority of Coalition MPs voting this through as the whips instruct them, without bothering to even read the documentation, understand the intricacies or even participate in the debate.

“If you chose to ignore the wealth of evidence and refuse to believe that David Cameron and the Tories would use these new powers to… stamp out dissent for their own sociopathic reasons, then at least consider the possibility that they are enabling the possibility of an unimaginably invasive totalitarian regime in the future. One where open justice is abolished, the population permanently monitored for signs of dissent, and dissenters are silenced in secretive Stalinist style legalistic proceedings.”

Obviously AAV and Vox Political will be right in the firing-line if this happens.

You need to contact your MP and ask what they’re going to do about this appalling assault on your freedom. Tell them about the clauses in the Deregulation Bill that have nothing to do with removing archaic regulations and everything to do with clamping down on your freedom and tell them in no uncertain terms that you won’t have it.

It’s a good bet that they won’t know what you’re talking about. Clause 47 relates to the press, as this Guardian report and this article from Inforrm’s blog make clear.

I believe Clause 51, and those following, relate to the repeal of laws by statutory instrument.

You can find contact details for your MP on TheyWorkForYou.com

If you get an email off to them quickly, there might even be a chance to nip this in the bud.

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