A short rough guide to the world

A short rough guide to the world

It’s a terrible world, the forces of repression are growing and act with impunity and as with Spain in the 30’s a Tory Govt fails to act with honour for human rights and democracy. It does not strongly advocate the weak; it does the opposite.

Solidarity with the Uighers in China, the citizens of Jammu/Kashmir, the citizens of the West Bank & Gaza, the Kurds in North Syria, the independence movement in Catalunya, and the protesters in Hong Kong.

And the United Nations show’s its weakness, my list could be longer, perhaps it’s time to refresh my membership of Amnesty International. …

What I said on the surveillance state

What I said on the surveillance state

I took my “surveillance society/human rights law” motion to my CLP GC last week. This is the speech I intended to give, it runs for about 2 mins; I had to cut it down.

In 2013, Edward Snowden, a contractor at the US’s National Security Agency blew the whistle on the NSA, and it’s five-eyes’ allies attempt to bug the whole of the internet, exposing the lengths that the intelligence services were prepared to go in building a surveillance society.

A debate exploded about the legality of their activities and we came to see the importance of their failed attempts under both Labour & Coalition Governments to legalise their activities with the Communications Data Bill versions 1 & 2.

In 2014, the Court of Justice of the European Union struck down the Data Retention Directive as in violation of the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights; in the UK a law was rapidly passed to leave the rights of the intelligence services in place.

Over time these surveillance powers have been extended by via both Legislation such as the Immigration Act, the Counter Terrorism and Security act which authorises Prevent and by “voluntary” agreement such as the #getitrightfromagenuine site programme.

This has been capped of by Theresa May’s Investigatory Powers Act, which has since been declared in contravention of the Charter of Fundamental Rights because the captured information can be retrieved for reasons other than serious crime and these retrievals are not reviewed by a Judge.

To this list we should add the Data Protection Act’s immigration exception, which means that immigration data is not subject to the GDPR rights of accessibility and correction.

At the centre of this is the intelligence service’s desire to treat everyone as suspects and to infringe their privacy without proving “reasonable suspicion”.

This is also about political power and how to exercise it; these measures are designed to take power away from us, from citizens and our neighbours.

If you look at the laws that underwrite the surveillance society, Immigration, Counter Terrorism and the DPA Immigration exception, you can see that the first victims of the surveillance society are migrants and ethnic minorities.

We should say and conference must state that freedom of expression and the right to privacy are universal human rights, that the current surveillance and investigatory powers regime is in breach of these rights.

It’s time for Labour to get on the right side of this debate, for too long the portfolio has been in the hands of fans of, or those that fear the securocrats.

250 words is too short to make the whole argument which is why I propose a commission to develop the policy further.

This motion is unlikely to be passed elsewhere so it’d be great if you voted for it and agreed to send it to conference.

The motion carried but we decided to send a great motion on social care. Does anyone have time to put it to conference? …

Another Red Line

I wrote this as an after thought to my article on Corbyn’s letter to May on Labour’s new Red Lines because it fascinates me; the European Arrest warrant is only available to full members of the EU, and in order to join or use it, it is necessary to comply with the CJEU and the Charter of Fundamental Rights to have access to it. Frankly the Good Friday Agreement needs that too. This would seem to be a trojan horse to put the Court and Charter of Rights back on the table. I wonder if they realise? … …

Venezuela: what does Amnesty say?

For those that think the UK Government has the right to tell Venezuela how it should run itself, here are Amnesty International’s reports on Venezuela and the UK.

They make an interesting read, criticising Venezuela on the grounds of freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, excessive use of force, arbitrary arrest & detention, human rights defenders, independent justice system, prisoners of conscience, international scrutiny, enforced disappearances, impunity, detention, right to food and health, women’s rights and refugees.

The UK report picks out Legal, Constitutional & Institutional affairs, the Justice System, Counter-terror & security, Torture and other ill-treatment, Surveillance, Northern Ireland – legacy issues, Sexual and reproductive rights, Discrimination, Right to life, Refugees’ and migrants’ rights, violence against women and girls and the arms trade.

Neither list is pretty but the freedom of speech and international scrutiny/legal, constitutional & institutional affairs are surprisingly equivalent and the Amnesty report on the UK raises several vulnerabilities of the UK people as a result of austerity, so its questionable that the Tories questioning the legitimacy of Maduro on the grounds that he’s oppressing his people.

The Venezuela presidential election is conducted, it would seem by one of the best e-voting systems in the world, with what IT security experts require, paper receipts and control audits. The opposition conceded.

It is quite bizarre that the leader of the opposition declares himself the acting president and that this is recognised by other states, not to mention foolhardy, there’s a

Maduro may be a shit, but he is not the only Head of State to be so, and the poverty of its people has as much to do with the illegal sanctions employed by the USA as it does to the any kleptocratic, corrupt instincts in the Venezuelan ruling party and he was elected in free and fair elections.

ooOOOoo

The Amnesty report on the UK does not mention Philip Alston’s, the UN’s rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights report on the UK, covered by me on this blog here… .

I posted this with a spelling mistake in the title, bother! Here is the wp SURL https://wp.me/p9J8FV-1Jz and here is a bit.ly SURL http://bit.ly/2WYtBN8 …

Freedom from Want!

I went to the internal relaunch/kickoff of the Labour Campaign for Human Rights last night. I am a member and wish them well. Long term fans will know I have been struggling for a while in getting the Party, with a few honourable exceptions, and its MPs interested in Digital Liberty and its Human Rights dimension; I sum up their attitude as “You can’t eat Human Rights”. I spoke to Matt Turner, the new Chair of their Committee and considered their next campaigns but our conversation moved on to Philip Alston, the UN’s rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights report on the UK. I had missed the fact that this was a Human Rights report, reported on briefly by the Guardian and at more length there too,  and that Article 25 of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights includes the following:

Article 25.

(1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
(2) Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.

The UNDHR was agreed as the Cold War descended to its depths but for each important individual liberty written in by the UK & US, the Soviet Union insisted (possibly with Roosevelt’s support) for the establishment of collective rights of solidarity which still remain today reflected in the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights as I discovered last week. Article 25 is a pretty comprehensive underwriting of the Social Democratic agenda which exercised hegemony in Northern Europe from 1945 to 1979.

We should note the appalling Tory reaction to the report, in the light of the fact that one of their Brexit Red Lines is the exclusion of the CJEU in Human Rights cases, and their disdain for the European Court of Human Rights and the Human Rights Act.

Perhaps we should take this into the Labour Party and destroy the image possibly more settled in my generation, that Human Rights are a bourgeois/middle class diversion. …

First they came …

 

First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the sick, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not sick.

Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a socialist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

Pastor Martin Niemoller

This is based on speeches made by the anti-nazi German priest Martin Niemöller and sourced from Wikipedia; most versions of the poem seem not to include the sick, the so-called incurables, but I wanted a longer version and think its more relevant to the UK today. …

We have a choice

We have a choice

The events of the weekend have led me to the conclusion that my review of the manifestos as they relate to the internet and civil liberties were too factual and too dry. Over the weekend, three islamist terrorists attacked London with a white van and knives. It is now believed that at least one of them has been radicalised by Al-Muhajiroun a banned group and had been, yet again, notified to the security services and police. I suspect we’ll learn more over the next couple of days. This was a week after an attack in Manchester on a concert. Overnight the political parties agreed to suspend the campaign for the following day, but one of the parties broke that agreement. I look at the responses of May and Corbyn, linking to their speeches and analyse the meaning of the promise to deny the terrorists a safe space on the internet, to increase prison sentences together with the impact of the cuts to the police and intelligence service staff numbers.  …

Parliamentary Sovereignty’s best sell by date

Parliamentary Sovereignty’s best sell by date

I went to the Labour Campaign for Human Rights meeting in the Commons yesterday, the keynote speaker was Kier Starmer, the Labour Brexit spokesman. He opened his speech stating he had voetd “Remain” based on jobs and rights and woke up on 27th June asking what world we live in. He argued that now we needed to accept democracy and that UK’s politics is about the new relationship with the EU. He argues we need to re-root our rights in UK law! (What like the Human Rights Act?) Labour is proposing a new Law to transcribe the EU’s rights and protections into UK law, but under the Tories this will be weak since the Tories are not planning to bring the “Fundamental Charter of Rights” across into UK law. …

Why you should be bothered about the Snoopers Charter

Why you should be bothered about the Snoopers Charter

Late last year, the UK Parliament passed the Investigatory Powers Act 2016. This law builds on the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Acts and the Data Retention Laws. This law allows the Government to store all our electronic communications traffic, read the content and meta data and co-opt the product and service vendors to help them. I describe this in more detail below.

The Law was written in the aftermath of Court of Justice of the European Union’s (CJEU) ruling in the Schrems vs. Facebook case that the EU’s Data Retention Directive and hence the member state implementations were in contradiction to the EU’s human rights law, the Charter of Fundamental Rights. Parliament had considered aspects of these proposals twice before under the two previous administrations and rejected them.

This article looks at the new Law, criticises it on Human Rights grounds in that it jeopardises the right to privacy, the right to organise, the right to a fair trial and rights to free speech and on IT Security grounds in that the new regulation of encryption products jeopardises access to electronic trust and privacy. It also examines the likely impact of the recent CJEU ruling on the legality of its predecessor law, and in passing, likely conflicts with last year’s passage of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) by the European Union.  …