Tag Archives: privacy

Value for money? Serco contact tracer app cost £12,000 per person and harvests your data

CORRECTION: It seems the NHS contact tracer app wasn’t developed by Serco and won’t harvest your data. See this article for further details. I’m leaving the piece below on the site as an example of the mistakes that can happen when a prime minister lies – Boris Johnson has repeatedly claimed that the Serco test and trace business belonged to the NHS, so when an NHS contact tracer came along, we all automatically accepted that it was run by Serco, and subject to the same privacy issues as the Serco system.

The BBC is reporting that a million people have downloaded the Covid-19 contact tracing app developed by the private money-grubbers at Serco.

At the same time, we have learned that Rishi Sunak has handed over another £2 billion to Serco for its test-and-trace… work… bringing the total up to £12 billion.

So, that’s a cost of £12,000 per user (so far).

Here’s what it’s supposed to do:

NHS Covid-19 instructs users to self-isolate for 14 days if it detects they were nearby someone who has the virus.
It also has a check-in scanner to alert owners if a venue they have visited is found to be an outbreak hotspot.

First, let’s get something straight. It’s being called the NHS contact tracing app. Is it really being run by the National Health Service?

Bad news, Mike…

So it’s a money pit for corporate beasts.

Is the price right? Well..

And does it do what it’s supposed to do – and nothing else?

Oh dear.

But there is a bright side:

That’s the bright side. You’ve got to really want to see it.

So! If you haven’t done it already, are you looking forward to downloading the app?

Source: NHS Covid-19 app: One million downloads of contact tracer for England and Wales – BBC News

Latest phase of Tory ‘hostile environment’ would force charities to help deport people sleeping rough

The Conservative government has been caught trying to persecute foreigners and some of the UK’s most vulnerable people – yet again.

The scandal centres once again on the Home Office, which has been trying to pressgang homelessness charities into becoming border guards.

The plan – euphemistically titled the Rough Sleeper Support Service (RSSS) – is to get charity outreach workers to pass on the personal details of homeless people to the Home Office where, if they were found to be from foreign countries, enforcement officers would deport them.

The scheme deliberately ignores data protection and privacy laws by demanding that personal information be passed to the Home Office regardless of whether the subject gives their consent.

This breach of national and international law was imposed to make it easier to deport people. A Home Office email stated that this would be harder if individuals were allowed to withdraw consent for their information to be used in this way, as would be permitted legally.

There has been pushback from charities who have refused to agree a data-sharing deal – that breaks the law – with the Home Office and local authorities.

This Writer wonders whether charities were also being gagged with non-disclosure agreements foisted on them by the Home Office – a Conservative government trick we have encountered before.

It seems odd that the first time this atrocity came to public attention was after the human rights charity Liberty received answers to a Freedom of Information request.

And Liberty was not pleased. According to the charity’s Gracie Bradley:

“It’s disgraceful that the Home Office, local authorities, and charities are attempting to turn trusted homelessness outreach workers into border guards. Homelessness charities must refuse complicity in the hostile environment.

Bradley said referrals will likely result in immigration enforcement action.

She said ministers should be concentrating on combating the root causes of homelessness rather than targeting rough sleepers. “Consent and data protection should also be at the heart of our interactions with public institutions,” she added.

[A] Public Interest Law Centre spokesman added: “Despite its name, the new RSSS offers no ‘support’ to homeless migrants living in the UK. It is a ‘hostile environment’ measure in all but name.”

Shockingly, the Tories have been unrepentant, now that their plan has been revealed.

A Home Office spokesman actually told the Guardian: “This enables individuals to access support or assists them in leaving the UK where appropriate.”

Assists them? They can only be assisted to leave the UK if they have been asked whether they want to – and it seems perfectly clear that the Home Office does not intend to seek any such permissions.

This is yet another atrocity from the home of the “hostile environment” and Home Secretary Sajid Javid should be hauled before Parliament to explain his department’s flagrant abuse of the law.

If he fails to account for his department’s actions, then we will have yet more proof of the Conservative Party’s prejudice against anybody who isn’t rich and privileged.

Source: Secret plan to use charities to help deport rough sleepers | Politics | The Guardian

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


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Are supporters of Mike’s libel accusers invading his privacy to threaten him?

Here’s a strange thing. I’ve started receiving emails from someone claiming to have infected my computer with a virus.

That’s all I know as I found them in my junk mailbox and didn’t open them. I deleted them instead.

Presumably there’s a threat to do some kind of harm to my system, or to publish secrets that I don’t want people to know, if I don’t cough up some cash. There’s always a threat of some kind involved in these things.

As I say, I deleted the messages so I don’t know what it was. It’s my policy, for reasons that should be obvious.

But then I thought: “Why now?”

We know that supporters of the two TV personalities who are alleging libel against me are skilled in tracking down people they want to target.

Those people, their relatives and friends, employers, and the heads of academic institutions where some are studying have been contacted with malicious messages. That fact is one aspect of my case.

I heard tonight that one person lost their job because of the lies these people peddle.

That revelation made me question whether the emails I had received might have been sent by supporters of my opponents, with the intention – at the very least – of knocking me off-balance; re-directing my concentration away from the case.

I wonder if those responsible will take this any further.

I wonder, also, if right-thinking people are prepared to accept that supporters of my opponents are invading the privacy of strangers in order to harm them.

Are you?

If not, I’ve got a remedy: Support my crowdfunding appeal so I can defend myself against the false claims levelled against me.

I cannot win this case on my own and the amount raised so far – while impressive – isn’t enough to see a court case through to its conclusion.

Think of it this way: If you say something these people don’t like, you could be next on their list.

And that is not a welcome thought!

If you have already contributed, please don’t feel pressured into doing so again unless you genuinely have the spare cash to justify it. If you haven’t – and you can – please do.

And please share information about the appeal, along with this message.

You can do this several ways:

  1. Email five friends who may be sympathetic, and encourage them to donate.
  2. Share the campaign on Facebook: https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/
  3. Tweet the campaign link to your followers.

Too few people know about this! We need to make the world aware of what’s happening here.

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


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If you want to avoid Snoopers’ Charter scrutiny, look out; most VPN services are terrible

[Image: @richard_littler/Twitter.]

[Image: @richard_littler/Twitter.]

Typical.

Only days after I write an article saying Virtual Private Networks are the best way to avoid scrutiny by the government under its newly-approved Snoopers’ Charter, someone chimes in to say that they’re rubbish.

I’d normally say that is a business opportunity for someone, but in this case it seems they would need to be based outside the UK, in order to avoid falling under the jurisdiction of the Snoopers’ Charter themselves.

I don’t have anything against foreign nationals creating a decent service and offering it to UK citizens; it’s just that it won’t directly benefit the UK’s economy.

Anyway, you’d best read the information for yourself: Most VPN Services are Terrible · GitHub. The gist is:

My TL;DR advice: Roll your own and use Algo or Streisand. For messaging & voice, use Signal. For increasing anonymity, use Tor Browser for desktop, and Onion Browser for mobile.

Does anyone else have an opinion?

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It is still possible to protect your privacy from the government. Here’s how to do it

internet-surveillance

Do you have any idea who’ll be able to look at your browsing history soo?

After the Snoopers’ Charter – sorry, the Investigatory Powers Act 2016 – receives Royal Assent, your web history for up to a year will become available to almost 50 police forces and government departments. They’ll be able to see which sites and internet messaging apps you visited and used – but won’t know which pages you saw.

Police and intelligence agencies will be able to hack into your computer and access its data, and can order Communication Service Providers (CSPs) to help them with this – and it will be an offence for a CSP or an employee of one to reveal that your data has been requested.

Here’s the list of organisations that can view your history, courtesy of this site:

  • Metropolitan police force
  • City of London police force
  • Police forces maintained under section 2 of the Police Act 1996
  • Police Service of Scotland
  • Police Service of Northern Ireland
  • British Transport Police
  • Ministry of Defence Police
  • Royal Navy Police
  • Royal Military Police
  • Royal Air Force Police
  • Security Service
  • Secret Intelligence Service
  • GCHQ
  • Ministry of Defence
  • Department of Health
  • Home Office
  • Ministry of Justice
  • National Crime Agency
  • HM Revenue & Customs
  • Department for Transport
  • Department for Work and Pensions
  • NHS trusts and foundation trusts in England that provide ambulance services
  • Common Services Agency for the Scottish Health Service
  • Competition and Markets Authority
  • Criminal Cases Review Commission
  • Department for Communities in Northern Ireland
  • Department for the Economy in Northern Ireland
  • Department of Justice in Northern Ireland
  • Financial Conduct Authority
  • Fire and rescue authorities under the Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004
  • Food Standards Agency
  • Food Standards Scotland
  • Gambling Commission
  • Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority
  • Health and Safety Executive
  • Independent Police Complaints Commissioner
  • Information Commissioner
  • NHS Business Services Authority
  • Northern Ireland Ambulance Service Health and Social Care Trust
  • Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service Board
  • Northern Ireland Health and Social Care Regional Business Services Organisation
  • Office of Communications
  • Office of the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland
  • Police Investigations and Review Commissioner
  • Scottish Ambulance Service Board
  • Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission
  • Serious Fraud Office
  • Welsh Ambulance Services National Health Service Trust

The same site adds that bulk collection and storage will also create an irresistible target for malicious actors, massively increasing the risk that your personal data will end up in the hands of:

  • People able to hack / infiltrate your ISP
  • People able to hack / infiltrate your Wi-Fi hotspot provider
  • People able to hack / infiltrate your mobile network operator
  • People able to hack / infiltrate a government department or agency
  • People able to hack / infiltrate the government’s new multi-database request filter

None of the above are likely to have your best interests at heart, and experience indicates that a major security breach will happen sooner, rather than later, “assuming, of course, that the powers that be manage not to just lose all of our personal data in the post.”

What’s to be done about it?

Well, according to The Guardian, not an awful lot. For a start, you can’t hide from the security services, and if they want to hack your devices, they will. But then, if they’re not out to get you, there’s no reason to behave as though they should be. Inconspicuousness could become the order of the day.

The paper advocates Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), which encrypt traffic between computers for a small monthly fee. Your service provider can’t see the final destination so its records should contain only the VPN company’s server addresses.

Apparently, when choosing a VPN, you should check the number of servers and where they are located, their privacy policies, the applications they support (Tor, BitTorrent etc), speed and price. Some have applications for different devices – Windows, MacOS, iPhone, iPad and Android.

If you are trying to avoid Snoopers’ Charter-related surveillance, choose a VPN that is not UK-based, and that does not keep any logs – because then they can’t hand them over to the government. TorrentFreak keeps an updated list of “which VPN services take your anonymity seriously”: The Best Anonymous VPN Services of 2016.

Some VPN providers accept payments by dozens of different methods including Bitcoin and anonymous gift cards – but a VPN cannot guarantee access to any particular website; Netflix has taken to blocking most VPN services, and problems may arise with Google’s geolocation, PayPal’s fraud detection software, and so on. And a VPN doesn’t protect you from phishing emails, keyloggers, and websites that try to install “drive by” malware.

Your web visits may still be logged – in your own web browser history and dozens of advertising services, including Google’s. You can block trackers with a browser extension such as Ghostery or the EFF’s Privacy Badger, but note that Privacy Badger only blocks trackers from third-party sites. GRC has a “forensics” page, which checks whether you are being tracked by cookies.According to the Graun: “For increased privacy, you could access the internet from a “virtual computer” loaded in your operating system, and then throw it away after use. VirtualBox is a good free example. VMware Workstation Player is also free for non-commercial use.

“This may be the only way to avoid being tracked by “browser fingerprinting”. This is when the tracking company (or government agency) gives your PC a unique identifier based on variables such as screen resolution, browser version, extensions, fonts, timezone and so on. If you use a virtual PC, every session starts with a more-or-less generic fingerprint. It may not be perfect, but it’s less identifiable than the alternative.”

Will This Writer be doing any of the above?

No. Or at least, probably not.

It’s a lot of hassle for someone who doesn’t actually break the law – even though I might say things the government would prefer people not to know.

But it’s good to know what the options are, just in case. Right?

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Terrorism, Islam, and the need to keep the Western world in fear

Laughing at the law-abiding: IS militants at a captured checkpoint in northern Iraq [Image: AFP/Getty].

IS militants, doing exactly what the western powers want them to do, in order to maintain fear of terrorism among (for example) British citizens. [Image: AFP/Getty].

Does anybody else think the reaction to the terror attack on Charlie Hebdo – along with that against ISIS (or whatever they’re calling themselves these days), Al-Qaeda and, for that matter, Russia – has been, at the very least, off-colour?

Terrorists attack the staff of a magazine, claiming to be doing so in the name of Islam (we have no proof that this was their purpose and may never have it), so there’s a huge backlash against Muslims and the same magazine’s next issue – with a cover featuring a poor (yet still offensive) attempt at caricaturing Muhammad himself – sells five million copies; its normal circulation is 60,000.

Here in the UK, David Cameron does his best to use the attack as an excuse for even greater government intrusion into citizens’ privacy, on top of the incursions already enacted by his government.

Is it really about keeping us safe, or is it about keeping us down?

Some have argued that the western military-industrial complex has a vested interest in providing the public with a state-sponsored bogeyman to fear. During the Cold War it was the USSR. Immediately after Soviet Communism (which must not be confused with socialism) collapsed, the west went to war with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq – a regime formerly supported by the USA. Since then we’ve had 911, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, 7/7, Libya, Syria and Islamic State. While this has been going on, the western media seem to be stirring up fear of Putin’s Russia.

Isn’t that only to be expected from a coalition of groups with vested psychological, moral and material interests in the continuous development and maintenance of high levels of weaponry, in preservation of colonial markets and in military-strategic conceptions of internal affairs*?

There is no doubt that the British people are kept safe by the efforts of our security services – it is important that this should not be misunderstood. Many of the threats mentioned a couple of paragraphs above have been real.

But they aren’t anywhere near as serious as certain extremely rich people and organisations want us to think they are. Look at Iraq – Saddam Hussein didn’t have any weapons of mass destruction at all! He was found in a hole, living on ‘fun-size’ Mars bars (if certain writers are to be believed**).

It seems clear that there is a system of control being exercised upon us here. You can see it for yourself, evidenced by the fact that we never seem to find ourselves clear of any threats; there’s always another one on the horizon and it’s always important for us to give up more of our civil liberties in order to fight it – and of course, we pay for all the weapons and ammunition used, with our taxes.

So, looking at this objectively, we should be asking ourselves: Who is the greater threat?

As far as the Islamic extremists are concerned, if we lived in a rational world there would be a strong argument for someone to go and speak to them (under a white flag or whatever it took to be heard) and point out a few important facts: The western military has enough firepower to turn the Middle East into a scorched crater if it wants to do so. The reason it doesn’t is it needs you to be the equivalent of a pantomime villain, to be defeated at regular intervals on the evening news. The West will never defeat you completely, because you’re too useful for making a profit for the arms dealers and for keeping western citizens under control. You are, therefore, nothing but toys. The only way to defeat this strategy is to disengage completely; stop the violence against the west that will never, ever succeed and find better solutions to your problems.

If we lived in a rational world, they would agree.

Wouldn’t you like to live in that world, instead of this?

*As described in Revolution, by Russell Brand. Cheers for looking it up, Russell.

**Cheers again, Russell.

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Tories unleash flagship scheme ahead of conference – to abolish your rights!

Slavery in the UK: This image was part of a campaign against it - but the Conservative Party wants to extend it to include you.

Slavery in the UK: This image was part of a campaign against it – but the Conservative Party wants to extend it to include you.

One has to marvel at the twisted logic of modern Conservatives; right before their last party conference in the run-up to the general election, they can normally be expected to be trying to bribe us all with tax cuts and benefits (maybe they will come later).

Instead they are promising to remove the safety net that keeps us free of exploitation by – what a surprise! – the Conservatives and their friends.

It’s not a new plan – Vox Political reported on the policy back in March last year, when Theresa May announced that they would scrap the Human Rights Act and withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights if they win the 2015 general election. They aren’t saying anything different now.

Back then, she claimed it would be “in the national interest”, and now Injustice Secretary Chris Grayling is saying more or less the same thing, dressing it up as an attempt to return power to the UK.

He told the Daily Telegraph: “Decisions like ‘do prisoners get the vote?’ or ‘can you send brutal murderers to prison for their whole lives?’ seem to be outside our control. I want our supreme court to be supreme. Decisions that affect this country should be taken in this country.”

He did not mention all the other rights you are likely to lose if the Conservatives are allowed to get away with this.

The European Convention on Human Rights was co-drafted by the UK – in fact by the Conservatives’ greatest Prime Minister, Winston Churchill – just after World War II. It states that nation states’ primary duty is to “refrain from unlawful killing”, to “investigate suspicious deaths” and to “prevent foreseeable loss of life”.

VP commented in March 2013 that “the Coalition government has been reneging on this obligation – wholesale – since it came into power”. Look at the Department for Work and Pensions’ work capability assessment for Employment and Support Allowance, and the thousands – possibly tens of thousands – of deaths related to it.

Article 4 of the Convention prohibits slavery, servitude and forced labour, so removing it would give the Tories free hand to impose their Mandatory Work Activity or Workfare schemes on us – despite the fact that these schemes are worse than useless at getting people into employment. The real reason for them is that they are a money-making scam to ensure the businesses involved support the Conservative Party.

Article 6 provides a detailed right to a fair trial, which is something Mr Grayling has been working hard to take away from you for a considerable period of time. It’s where you get the right to a public hearing before an independent and impartial tribunal within a reasonable time (the Coalition’s secret courts have removed this right already), and where the presumption of innocence until proven guilty is enshrined.

Article 8 provides a right to respect for another person’s “private and family life… home and… correspondence”. This has been violated, of course, by the Tory-led Coalition’s recent Surveillance Act.

Article 10 provides a right to freedom of expression, so removing it would allow the Tories to censor the Internet and remove blogs such as Vox Political, leaving only their own propaganda.

Article 11 protects the right to freedom of assembly and association, including the right to form trade unions. Obviously the Tories would love to ban the unions, but removing this would allow them the ability to ban anti-government demonstrations and it is probably why Boris Johnson bought his water cannons.

The Human Rights Act 1998 (brought in by the Labour Party) is the UK legislation that makes the European Convention binding on this country, meaning that breaches of it may be remedied in British courts, rather than the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. It is only appeals against the decisions of the British courts that go to Europe.

Grayling doesn’t like the idea of impartial foreigners ruling on whether his government’s politically-motivated human rights violations are legal.

That’s why he said; “I want our supreme court to be supreme. Decisions that affect this country should be taken in this country.” He wants absolute power over you.

Dominic Grieve, the former Attorney-General who got the sack during the summer, described the Tory attack on human rights as “incoherent”. It is widely believed to be one of the reasons he got the push.

The Tories are also determined to tie this policy in with anti-European Union rhetoric, even though the ECHR is nothing to do with the EU.

The Guardian‘s story on Grayling’s announcement includes a coda in which Savid Javid, our Sontaran* culture secretary, tried to reassure people that Britain could still prosper if it leaves the EU, despite the possible loss of hundreds of billions of pounds worth of trade deals (as reported in this blog previously).

But that’s another fact they’d rather you did not know. Misdirection is the only way forward for modern Conservatives.

Remember “There will be no top-down reorganisation of the NHS”?

*It’s a Doctor Who reference. Look up pictures of Javid and a Sontaran and you’ll spot the resemblance.

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Conservatives set to launch ‘incoherent’ attack on human rights

Sacked: Dominic Grieve's reservations about Legal Aid cuts put him at adds with the Coalition government; it seems his concern over a planned attack on human rights led to his sacking.

Sacked: Dominic Grieve’s reservations about Legal Aid cuts put him at adds with the Coalition government; it seems his concern over a planned attack on human rights led to his sacking.

Now we know why former Attorney General Dominic Grieve got the sack – he is said to have opposed a forthcoming Conservative attack on the European Court of Human Rights, which he described as “incoherent”.

Coming in the wake of his much-voiced distaste for Chris Grayling’s cuts to Legal Aid, it seems this was the last straw for David Cameron, the Conservative Prime Minister who seems determined to destroy anything useful his party ever did.

The European Court of Human Rights was one such thing; Winston Churchill helped set it up after World War II and its founding principles were devised with a large amount of input from the British government. It is not part of the European Union, but is instead connected to the Council of Europe – an organisation with 47 member states.

It seems the Conservatives want to limit the European Court’s power over the UK, because they want Parliament to decide what constitutes a breach of human rights.

The opportunities for corruption are huge.

Considering the Conservative-led Coalition’s record, such corruption seems the only reason for the action currently being contemplated.

The plan could lead to the UK being expelled from the Council of Europe, and the BBC has reported that Mr Grieve had warned his colleagues that the idea was a plan for “a legal car crash with a built-in time delay”, an “incoherent” policy to remain a signatory to the European Convention of Human Rights but to refuse to recognise the rulings of the court which enforces it.

This blog has already discussed the Tories’ plan to take away your human rights but it is worth reiterating in the context of the latest revelation.

The United Kingdom helped to draft the European Convention on Human Rights, just after World War II. Under it, nation states’ primary duty is to “refrain from unlawful killing”, to “investigate suspicious deaths” and to “prevent foreseeable loss of life”.

The Department for Work and Pensions has been allowing the deaths of disabled people since 2010. Withdrawing from the European Convention and scrapping the Human Rights Act would mean this government would be able to sidestep any legal action to bring those responsible to justice.

Article 4 of the Convention prohibits slavery, servitude and forced labour – in other words, the government’s Mandatory Work Activity or Workfare schemes. The government has already faced legal action under this article, and has been defeated. It seems clear that the Tories want to avoid further embarrassment and inflict the maximum suffering on those who, through no fault of their own, do not have a job.

Article 6 provides a detailed right to a fair trial – which has been lost in the UK already, with laws allowing “secret courts” to hear evidence against defendants – which the defendants themselves are not permitted to know and at which they are not allowed to be present. The Legal Aid cuts which Mr Grieve opposed were also contrary to this right.

Article 8 provides a right to respect for one’s “private and family life, his home and his correspondence” – and of course the UK’s violation of this right has been renewed only this week, with the Data Retention Act that was passed undemocratically within a single day.

And so on. These are not the only infringements.

Clearly the Tories want to sideline the European Court so they never have to answer for their crimes against the British people.

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Data retention debate: The lies they tell to steal your rights

Haggard: Theresa May looked distinctly ruffled as she responded to criticism of her government's undemocratic actions. Some of you may wish to abbreviate the first word in this caption to three letters.

Haggard: Theresa May looked distinctly ruffled as she responded to criticism of her government’s undemocratic actions. Some of you may wish to abbreviate the first word in this caption to three letters.

It is ironically appropriate that an Act of Parliament guaranteeing government the right to invade the private communications of every single citizen in the UK, ostensibly in the interests of justice, should be justified by a web of dishonesty.

This is what an indecisive British electorate gets: A government that can lose every major debate in the chamber – and look shambolic while doing so – and still win the vote because all its members have been whipped into place.

We all knew the government’s case for providing itself with a legal ability to snoop on your telephone and Internet communications was paper-thin, and by failing to produce any new justification, the government confirmed our suspicions.

Introducing the Data Retention and Investigatory Bill earlier today, Minister for Security and Immigration James Brokenshire said the three-month delay since the European Court of Justice judgement that allegedly necessitated the legislation was because the Coalition had “sought clarity” on it.

He went on to say that “There is a risk in relation to co-operation on the use of the powers; indeed, there may be legal challenge. The House must face up to the prospect that the powers we use—they are constantly used by our law enforcement agencies—are at potential risk, and we are seeking to address that risk.”

Michael Meacher suggested a more persuasive reason for the three-month delay: “Panic or a deliberate attempt to blackmail the House into undiscriminating compliance.”

He said the argument that foreign phone and Internet firms were about to refuse UK warrants, demanding the contents of individual communications, was another red herring: “It has been reported that communications service providers have said that they did not know of any companies that had warned the UK Government that they would start deleting data in the light of legal uncertainty. Indeed, the Home Office, according to the Financial Times, instructed companies to disregard the ECJ ruling and to carry on harvesting data while it put together a new legal framework.”

So Brokenshire was lying to the House about the potential effect of inaction. That will be no surprise to anyone familiar with the workings of the Coalition government. At risk of boring you, dear reader, you will recall that the Health and Social Care Act was based on a tissue of lies; now your privacy has been compromised – perhaps irrevocably – on the basis of a lie.

MPs could not limit the extension of the government’s powers until the autumn, Brokenshire said, because a review of the power to intercept communications had been commissioned and would not be ready by then.

According to Labour’s David Hanson, the main Opposition party supported the Bill because “investigations into online child sex abuse, major investigations into terrorism and into organised crime, the prevention of young people from travelling to Syria and many issues relating to attempted terrorist activity have depended on and will continue to depend on the type of access that we need through the Bill”.

Mr Hanson’s colleague David Winnick disagreed. “I consider this to be an outright abuse of Parliamentary procedure… Even if one is in favour of what the Home Secretary intends to do, to do it in this manner—to pass all the stages in one day—surely makes a farce of our responsibilities as Members of Parliament.”

He pointed out – rightly – that there has been no pre-legislative scrutiny by the select committees – a matter that could have been carried out while the government sought the clarification it said delayed the Bill. “This is the sort of issue that the Home Affairs Committee and other Select Committees that consider human rights should look at in detail,” said Mr Winnick. “None of that has been done.”

The Bill did not even have the support of all Conservative MPs. David Davis – a very senior backbencher – said: “Parliament has three roles: to scrutinise legislation, to prevent unintended consequences and to defend the freedom and liberty of our constituents. The motion undermines all three and we should oppose it.”

Labour’s Tom Watson, who broke the news last Thursday that the Coalition intended to rush through this invasive Bill, was more scathing still: “Parliament has been insulted by the cavalier way in which a secret deal has been used to ensure that elected representatives are curtailed in their ability to consider, scrutinise, debate and amend the Bill. It is democratic banditry, resonant of a rogue state. The people who put this shady deal together should be ashamed.”

Plaid Cymru’s Elfyn Llwyd said Parliament was being “ridden over roughshod”.

Labour’s Diane Abbott made two important points. Firstly, she called the Bill an insult to the intelligence of the House. “We have had a Session with a light legislative programme, and for Ministers to come to the House and say, ‘We’ve only got a day to debate it’, when weeks have passed when we could have given it ample time is, I repeat, an insult to the intelligence of MPs.”

Then she turned on her own front bench: “I believe… that those on the Opposition Front Bench have been ‘rolled’ [one must presume she meant this in the sense of being drunken, sleeping or otherwise helpless people who were robbed]. All Ministers had to do was to raise in front of them the spectre of being an irresponsible Opposition, and that children will die if they do not vote for the Bill on this timetable, and they succumbed.”

Despite this opposition – not just to the way the Bill had been tabled, but to its timetable and its content – MPs voted it through, after a derisory nine hours of debate, by a majority of 416.

So much for democracy.

So much for MPs being elected to protect their constituents.

When Hansard publishes details of the vote, I’ll put them up here so that you can see which way your own MP voted and use that information to inform your actions during the general election next May.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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See if YOUR objection is mentioned in the Surveillance Bill debate!

internet-surveillance

It seems Parliament’s discussion of the Data Retention and Investigatory Bill, also known as the Surveillance Bill, will now take place tomorrow (Tuesday) rather than today (Monday).

This works better for Yr Obdt Srvt, who has carer-related business today and would not have been able to watch the debate.

Hopefully, many Vox Political readers – if not all – have emailed or tweeted MPs, calling on them to speak and vote against the Bill which, while only reinstating powers the government has already been using, is a totally unacceptable infringement of our freedom that is being imposed in a totally unacceptable timeframe.

As has been discussed here previously, the Bill enshrines in law Theresa May’s ‘Snooper’s Charter’, requiring telecommunications companies to keep a complete record of all your telephone and Internet communications for examination by politicians.

The information to be kept includes the location of people you call, the date and time of the call, and the telephone number called.

It seems the Bill is intended to be a response to a European ruling in April, making the valid point that the government’s current behaviour is an invasion of citizens’ privacy. Clearly, therefore, the Coalition government is determined to continue invading your privacy.

The judgement of the European Court of Justice is being overridden and the Conservative-led Coalition is making no attempt to find a reasonable compromise between the need for security and the right of privacy.

The fact that David Cameron has waited more than three months before putting this on the Parliamentary timetable, during a time when MPs have had very little to discuss, indicates that he wanted to offer no opportunity for civil society to be consulted on the proposed law or consider it in any way.

Cameron wanted to restrict our freedom to question this restriction of our freedoms.

Another reason given for the haste is that foreign-based Internet and phone companies were about to stop handing over the content of communications requested by British warrants – but service providers have confirmed that this was a lie. No companies had indicated they would delete data or reject a UK interception warrant.

Ignoring the fact that this does nothing to support your privacy, at least it does completely undermine Mr Cameron’s case for rushing through the legislation.

He is offering concessions – but they are not convincing and nobody should be fooled into thinking that they make this Bill acceptable. However:

A possibility of restrictions on retention notices is not clarified in the text of the Bill, and is therefore meaningless; and

The ‘sunset clause’ for the Bill’s provisions does not come into effect for two and a half years, by which time (we can assume) the government is hoping everybody will have forgotten about it and it can be renewed with a minimum of fuss. This is how your freedoms are taken away – behind your back.

If you have not yet contacted your MP, you are advised to do so.

If you lose your right to privacy – especially to this government – you won’t get it back.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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