.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Fighting the Surveillance State

The Guardian reports on a very important intervention by former Liberal Democrats leader, Lord Ashdown in which he says that technology used by Britain's spy agencies to conduct mass surveillance is "out of control", and that this raises fears about the erosion of civil liberties at a time of diminished trust in the intelligence services.

Lord Ashdown has called for a high-level inquiry to address fundamental questions about privacy in the 21st century. The paper says that he railed against "lazy politicians" who frighten people into thinking "al-Qaida is about to jump out from behind every bush and therefore it is legitimate to forget about civil liberties":

Ashdown talks frequently to the deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, and is chair of the the Liberal Democrats' general election team. Though he said he was speaking for himself, his views are understood to be shared by other senior members of the Liberal Democrats in government, who are also keen for some kind of broad inquiry into the subject..

This idea is also supported by Sir David Omand, a former director of GCHQ. He told the Guardian he was in favour of an inquiry and thought it would be wrong to "dismiss the idea of a royal commission out of hand". It was important to balance the need for the agencies to have powerful capabilities, and the necessity of ensuring they did not use them in a way parliament had not intended, Omand added.

The former Liberal Democrats Leader does not believe that the Parliamentary Committee charged with overseeing the security services is capable of coping with new circumstances. He believes that surveillance should only be conducted against specific targets when there was evidence against them and considers that Dragnet surveillance is unacceptable:

He also criticised the Labour party, which was in power when the agencies began testing and building many of their most powerful surveillance capabilities. Labour's former home secretary Jack Straw was responsible for introducing the Regulation of Investigatory Power Act 2000 (Ripa), which made the programmes legal.

"Ripa was a disgraceful piece of legislation," Ashdown said. "Nobody put any thought into it. Labour just took the words they were given by the intelligence agencies. I don't blame the intelligence agencies.

"We charge them with the very serious business of keeping us secure and of course they want to have powers. But it's the duty of government to ensure those powers don't destroy our liberties and Labour utterly failed to do this."

One consequence of Labour's negligence was the development of surveillance techniques that could damage civil liberties and erode privacy, said Ashdown.

He said that he was "frightened by the erosion of our liberties" and while accepting that there was a need to keep the nation safe it was the "habit of politicians who are lazy about the preservation of our liberties or don't mind seeing them destroyed, to play an old game.

"They tell frightened citizens: 'If you give me some of your liberties, I will make you safer'".
Ashdown said that as a young man in 1960s he was taken to a vast Post Office shed in central London where spies were steaming open letters. Recalling being met by "a deep fog of steam" after entering the room, he said that the place was "filled with diligent men and women, each with a boiling kettle on their desk, steaming open letters". It was appropriate for the state to intervene in the private communications of its citizens, but the peer added "only in cases where there is good evidence to believe the nation's security is being threatened, or arguably, when a really serious crime has been committed".

There appears to be a growing consensus for such an inquiry. Let's hope that the Government listens.
I think when one buys a new laptop (in my defence I only get a new one when my current one dies on me - they usually have '9 lives', but on the 10th die) ... anyway, upon buying a new laptop doesn't it go SO FAST!!! Then in a week or so it goes SO SLOW like the old one - why? Because everyone and 'the guy they now' is on your laptops tail, head, all over like uncontrolled lice. http://www.salon.com/.../

Meet the contractors analyzing your private data

Here, this was the URL I was looking for... "Private firms selling mass surveillance systems around world, documents show". With this happening...

Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?