Surveillance: Lawyer says No

Surveillance: Lawyer says No

Parliament’s All Party Parliamentary Group on Drones, chaired by Tom Watson MP as received QC’s advice on the legality of British Intelligence’s mass surveillance, reported here in the Guardian and the lawyer says the programmes are probably illegal and that any warrants signed by politicians will be in breach of UK Law,  the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and the EU Acquis. Watson points at this article from his blog here. The legal justification is based on RIPA, the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act and Jemima Stanford QC states that it is not fit for purpose given the changes in technology in the last 10 years. …

Voter Suppression?

Voter Suppression?

The Guardian reports that the electoral commission have announced that they propose to extending proof of identity checks at the polling station from Northern Ireland to the rest of the UK. This has been a while coming. I reviewed Mike Buckley’s Banana Republic UK, in which he argued that, proof of Identity should be presented when voting and/or applying for a postal vote, identity checks should be undertaken when applying for inclusion on the electoral roll & postal votes should be restricted to those who have a need. His arguments also strongly suggest that judicial scrutiny of contested or suspicious results should be easier to start. …

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. …

Privacy Liberty and security: How will Labour tackle terror?

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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. …

Capitalism and Creativity…yeah right

I stayed in the Hilton to take part in a fringe event called “The economic contribution and growth potential of the creative industries” with speakers from the CBI, UK Music and UKIE. The meeting was planned to be chaired by Tom Watson, but Sion Simon stood in for him.

athenspolytechnic-theband

Matt Fell from the CBI’s competitive markets division spoke first. He started by pointing  out the bleeding obvious that creative is becoming digital; except it’s not! Most musicians make more money performing than they do through licensing their content. It’s industrial music and its parasitical lawyers, agents and accountants, and now it would seem commentators, lobbyists and analysts that need copyright and the corporate industrial cocoons. He also stated that there was a lack of government backing, absolutely look at the coalition’s abolition of the British Film Council and he called for strong intellectual property laws. I wanted to ask how they could be stronger! …

Did the South London TSA break the law?

If closing Lewisham A&E is illegal because considering Lewisham Hospital as part of the answer to SE London Health Authority’s financial problems was ultra-vires because they made recommendations that were not “in relation to the trust”,  where the trust was South East London trust; will the Secrteary of State look to recover the fees of the Trust Special Administrator who made a recommendation later proven to be illegal.

What do you think? …

Save Lewisham A&E – Hunt’s broken the Law

Save Lewisham A&E – Hunt’s broken the Law

Hunt’s closure of Lewisham A&E ruled illegal by the High Court, and here’s how various supporters of the campaign reacted.

Mark, the artist taxi driver seems to like swearing, a lot! What he seems to like swearing about and at is the Tories! This isn’t a problem for me, in fact I find him funny, but some may find his language offensive. Of course, what he’s talking about is pretty offensive. …

Who wins when copyright and free speech clash?

The short answer is, I suppose, it depends on which courts you sue in. (This article at Torrent Freak shows what happened when the Pirate Bay claimed Free Speech rights; both the Swedish courts and the ECtHR ruled against them. If watching the Good Wife, you’ll believe that  free speech is a recognised defence for copyright infringement and monopolistic behaviour), however techdirt.com probably has a more accurate and less optimistic view as to the power of the First Amendment in the USA. …

Linking is legal again

Seventeen senior academic lawyers have published a powerful opinion that internet hyperlinks, to copyright infringing content is legal. The EU Court has been asked for an opinion/ruling by the Swedish Government, the case is summarised on the marvellous 1709 blog in an article entitled “CJEU to consider copyright implications of linking and framing”. The lawyers have published this opinion under the auspices of the European Copyright Society. This is not exactly news but it’s an important statement of common sense.

Let’s hope the Judges agree! …