Labour’s front bench and surveillance.

Labour’s front bench and surveillance.

The Labour Campaign for Human Rights organised an event at which Kier Starmer, Labour’s shadow spokesman on the Investigatory Powers Bill, he introduced himself, and pointed to his record as a Barrister where he has been involved in a number of cases prosecuting the government, the police and the intelligence agencies and his time as DPP. He says his experience shows him the “the reality of the crimes to be fought”.  (This is not necessarily a scarce resource if you came to adulthood living in the UK in the eighties, or were working or travelling in London on 7th July 2005.) The rest of this article looks at the critiques made by the guest speakers and audience; it’s a piece of reporting, not a polemic, there’s plenty of those around. Basically the view in the room was it’s not fit for purpose, the new powers are too extensive, the old powers are too extensive, the proposed oversight remains too weak and the powers are not necessary, effective or proportionate. Those of us in the Labour Party can also add, the question where did this come from as Party policy. …

What do London’s MEP candidates think about digital?

What do London’s MEP candidates think about digital?

Yesterday the Open Rights Group held its final European Parliament hustings at Shoreditch Village Hall in Hoxton, London. It’s been a while since I visited and it’s certainly cleaned up well. It was great to be there. On the way in, I met Claude Moraes, Labour’s spokesman who told me that the Tories non-attendance was deliberate policy. I don’t know if it’s shame at their behaviour on the lobbying around the data protection directive or fear of a digitally educated audience. The meeting was moderated by Glyn Moody, who led the meeting through the issues of privacy, surveillance, whistle blowing, net neutrality, lobbying and copyright reform. The Tories absence meant that representatives from Labour, the LibDems, both represented by incumbents Claude Moraes and Sarah Ludford,the Greens (Danny Bates) and UKIP (Paul Oakley) who were not, were present. …

Who watches the Watchmen?

Who watches the Watchmen?

In the continuing story of the NSA and their five eyes attempts to do to the world what the GDR’s Stasi did to East Germany, someone finally asks how did we let GCHQ capture and process the internet traffic of the British people, those using the transatlantic internet cables and using the decryption technology to spy on allies and diplomats engaged in economic talks and treaties. On the 31st October, Julian Huppert MP with cross bench support from Tom Watson MP and Dominic Rabb MP managed to get time in the Westminster Hall committee room to debate Parliament’s oversight of the Intelligence agencies, specifically GCHQ, but let’s not forget our old friends, the burglars at MI5.  The debate was broadcast on Parliament TV, and transcribed in Hansard here. Both the Video and Hansard report the debate verbatim, and so if you want to hear what the MPs said, then you’ll have to use those resources. The rest of this article is a personal comment on the meeting. …

What was said at the ORG meeting on the surveillance state?

What was said at the ORG meeting on the surveillance state?

The openrights group meeting at #lab13 was held, and has been reported at their web site in an article called ‘Tom Watson MP: “The surveillance state is running amok and Parliament has absolutely failed.”‘ They have caught the opening speakers, Paul Johnson from the Guardian, Nick Pickles of Big Brother Watch, Javier Ruiz (ORG) and Tom Watson MP on video which I recommend you watch, although I have precised the contributions below. …

Privacy Liberty and security: How will Labour tackle terror?

Privacy Liberty and security: How will Labour tackle terror?

This was chaired by Jamie Bartlett of Demos, with David Blunkett and Helen Goodman with Nick Pickles of Big Brotherwatch. Jamie Bartlett, who has an interesting publication record at Demos may have been the perfect chair for the meeting.

He opened by looking at Labour’s mixed record, on the positive side introducing the Human Rights Act and on the less positive side, introducing RIPA and extending detention. RIPA is not well understood; but it defines the powers and duties in the issue of search warrants as a result most police searches are now self-authorised. He made the point that once in existence, databases suffer from scope creep and that to some extent the Communications Data Bill is an attempt to legalise actions already taken. …

The ORG in Brighton with Labour

The Open Rights Group are convening a meeting as part of the Labuour Party Conference Fringe.

org

Event Title: PRISM and Mass Surveillance: a Threat to Democracy and Economic Welfare?
Start Date Time: Tuesday 24th September, 2013 at 17:00
End Date Time: Tuesday 24th September, 2013 at 19:00
Weblink: http://www.meetup.com/ORG-Brighton/

They say,

Mass Internet surveillance is now an undisputed fact. Its defenders tell us that it is necessary to protect us from terrorists, criminals and rogue states. But the Snowden revelations show that we face unaccountable indiscriminate surveillance of Internet users on a global scale. This attack on privacy has potential devastating implications for our understanding of democracy.

But is’s not just the foundations of democracy that are under attack. Recent revelations of a systematic weakening of encryption systems by US and UK security agencies undermine fundamental Internet security. These are the basics of trust on the Internet; they are the reason we trust our bank, our credit card payments or Virtual Private Networks not to leak this information to criminals, blackmailers or governments. Thus the real impact will not just be about state security, it may be about economics and the opportunities for increased wellbeing presented by the Internet.

Confirmed speakers: Tom Watson MP, Paul Johnson – Deputy Editor, The Guardian, Javier Ruiz – Campaigns Director, Open Rights Group, and Nick Pickles – Executive Director, Big Brother Watch.

Not sure if Tom’ll make it. He had to miss an earlier meeting today.

I’m told there’ll be free drinks.

Sadly, I’ll not be there, I need to be back in London. …

Have the US killed their cloud business?

As the proof that Governments are spying on social media users is found, we should all take measures to make it hard. I am sure that they’ll try and outlaw encryption next, but they might have a problem with that since it’ll kill e-commerce. Talking of killing e-commerce, a number of commentators, including David Kirkpatrick posting at linkedin are asking if this will cause Europeans and their Governments to withdraw from the US cloud providers.

The Swedish Government, for instance have already decided to abandon Google’s web services. …

Stable doors and missing horses, tightening up on personal I.T. security

One conclusion I have come to after the weekend since the securocrats, like the copyright monopolists seem to never give up is that we need to equip ourselves properly. I plan to train myself to use ixquick’s search engine, and open a jabber account. ixquick do not require a login, and thus can’t tie an IP address to an identity and they do not log what is done. They are planning a secure mail service. They are a Dutch company, with a US subsidiary. I wonder where the computers are? Is this over the top, or will Firefox private windows be enough? …

Citizens not Suspects

I attended the Open Rights Group’s London meetup on Monday night; Rachel Robinson, Liberty’s Policy Officer was speaking at the Angel, a pub near Old St, probably the inspiration for the London monopoly board space. She spoke about planned legistation in the UK known variously as the Communications Capabilities Development Programme or the Communications Data Bill. Interesting how the British Government develop such annodyne names for their oppressive measures, the Digital Economy Act vs the US “Stop Online Piracy Act” or the “Commerce before Leisure on the Internet Act”, I made the last one up, or I think I did. …