Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The UK strengthens its panopticon

Back in April, the European Court of Justice overturned the EU Data Retention Directive, a European law pushed through by the British government to require telecommunications companies and ISPs to store telecommunications metadata just in case police ever wanted it. The ECJ naturally found that blanket storage without particular suspicion was an invasion of privacy and declared the directive invalid.

The British government ignored the ruling and instructed phone companies and ISPs to keep retaining data. Then a coalition of privacy NGOs threatened to take them to court over it. As a result, they're now ramming through emergency legislation, which almost certainly violates EU law, to ensure they can keep doing it. But its not just about preserving the (illegal) status quo - they're also snatching new surveillance powers and asserting that non-UK companies must obey UK spy-warrants at the same time.

This rushed attack on privacy is being supported by all three major parties. In other words, the entire UK establishment supports total metadata surveillance of all citizens, 24/7, with no need for suspicion, "just in case". In case of what? One of the reasons they give for this is that it will help them catch paedophiles. Which is a bit rich, coming from an institution which has covered up for them for decades.

If all this seems eerily familiar, its because its exactly what happened here: the courts found the spies had behaved illegally, and hey, presto! there's emergency legislation, rammed through under urgency, granting them a pile of new powers. The world over, politicians support spies. And if we want to get rid of the spies, we need to vote out the scum who legislate for them.