DRIP Bill means a future torrent of snooping powers

Immediate

The Government’s Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Bill (DRIP) [1] is much more than a replacement for existing regulations, campaign group NO2ID [2] warns.

Though is being brought forward ostensibly to meet the ‘emergency’ of previous powers being declared unlawful by the European Court of Justice in April [3], the Bill DOES NOT not restate the previous Data Retention Regulations. It gives future Home Secretaries sweeping new powers to order telephone and internet companies to keep almost any sort of information about their users. It covers some of the same ground as the ‘snooper’s charter’ the controversial Communications Data Bill dropped earlier in this parliament because of civil liberties and privacy concerns.

The coalition government in its first public pronouncement said: ‘We will end the storage of internet and email records without good reason’. But it has not done anything to change the prevailing situation, until now.

Guy Herbert, General Secretary of NO2ID said:

Cyncism from the Home Office; hypocrisy or naivety from ministers. A synthetic opportunity has been created to rush through new, highly technical powers, without giving MPs a chance to understand the implications, under the pretence of retaining old ones. (Old ones that were themselves unconstitutional in other European countries[4].)

This is a classic database state scheme for mass surveillance that can be indefinitely modified once it is on the statute book. A DRIP can easily become a torrent

-ENDS-

Notes for editors:

1) Full text here:
http://dataretentionandinvestigatorypowersbill.uk/dripb.pdf

2) NO2ID is the UK national campaign against the database state, the tendency to try to use computers to manage society by maintaining state files on people. www.no2id.net

3) See, eg BBC ‘Top EU court rejects EU-wide data retention law’ 8 April 2014
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-26935096

4) ‘The Coalition: our programme for government’ May 2010, p11.

5) Romania and Germany both had constitutional courts strike down the regulations in the last decade.

For further information, or for immediate or future interview, please contact:

Guy Herbert [London] (General Secretary, general.secretary@no2id.net) on 07956 544 308
OR
James Baker [Leeds/Manchester] (Campaigns Manager, campaigns@no2id.net) on 07817 605 162

Scotland wakes up to Holyrood’s own ID card

Immediate 5th June 2013

A retired Edinburgh University Lecturer has become so frustrated with the political invisibility of the privacy problems of the Scottish Entitlement Card scheme that he has taken out a full-page ad in the Glasgow Herald to tell people about it [1].

Calling it “The Scottish Identity Card Scandal”, Dr John Welford points out that though Scots politicians opposed the UK Home Office ID scheme [2] in government they have for several years been enrolling millions of Scots in something very similar: a card to be used for a variety of official purposes, backed by a database of personal details. Anyone taking up a bus pass or Young Scot Card issued by the Scottish Government since 2006 has simply been added to the database [3]. Few will have realized.

There is some current alarm over unrelated Scottish schemes for data-sharing on citizens [4]. But the entitlement card scheme is much more open to abuse, should any future government decide to abuse it. People are waking up to threats to their privacy in a connected world.

Dr Welford says:

In fact, it’s a fully functioning Scottish identity card. And its covert and dishonest introduction has been a gross national scandal. I think it’s time at last for the Scottish people to know the truth.

Guy Herbert, General Secretary of NO2ID [5] says:

This is a classic database state scheme. It is not that the Scottish government has set out to destroy people’s privacy. It has just not bothered about any side-effects on privacy. It is time for a rethink.

-ENDS-

Notes for editors:
1) The Herald 6th June 2013 “An open letter to readers”
2) A “wasteful government folly” having “serious implications for the civil liberties of ordinary citizens”
Scottish Parliament resolution
http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/parliamentarybusiness/16468.aspx
3) “When an individual applies for a NEC they are given a ‘card-only’ Citizen’s Account […] The validation and verification process for setting up a Citizen’s Account also establishes a unique citizen reference number (UCRN). This is used to confirm the date of birth to prevent/detect duplicate or fraudulent applications and to automatically update some of the personal details on the record.”
Scottish Government answer to FOIA request
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/national_entitlement_card_manage
4) Eg, Scottish Express 2nd June 2013 “ID card plan to snoop on Scots”
http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/404361/ID-card-plan-to-snoop-on-Scots
5) NO2ID is the UK national campaign against the database state, the tendency to try to use computers to manage society by maintaining state files on people. www.no2id.net

For further information, or for immediate or future interview, please contact:

Dr John Welford [Edinburgh] (idcardsscandal@jwelford.demon.co.uk) on
OR
Guy Herbert [London] (General Secretary, general.secretary@no2id.net) on 07956 544 308
OR
James Baker [Leeds/Manchester] (Campaigns Manager, campaigns@no2id.net) on 07817605 162

NO2ID: no case for push-button surveillance

Immediate.

While highly critical of detail, the Joint Committee on the Communications Data Bill is too accepting of its central premise. No case has been made for push-button surveillance, NO2ID points out today.

The influential parliamentary committee describes Home Office evidence in numerous places as ‘misleading’ or ‘fanciful and misleading’, but its report accepts untested the motivating idea that the surveillance we already have is not too much, and not enough. Large sections encourage the expansion of data-sharing.

NO2ID points out that the question it asked at the beginning of the consultation remains unanswered. ‘What problem does it solve that cannot be handled already?’ In hundreds of hours of discussions the Home Office has not bothered to make the basic case, beyond a few cherry-picked and sensational anecdotes.

The core of the Bill is a proposal to make access to more information about everyone’s communications and internet use easier for a huge range of official purposes. By putting spy equipment into every significant communications loop, supervised not by a judge but by secret software, the ambition is to be able to collate a dossier on any citizen and his contacts at the push of a button.

NO2ID told the committee in written evidence:

It is our contention that surveillance powers as significant as the capture of communications data ought to cause the investigating authorities some time and trouble to use

Guy Herbert, General Secretary of NO2ID said today:

While we welcome the Committee’s detailed criticism, they are still too trusting. A massive increase in the Home Office’s powers needs substantial justification. While it may seem obvious to officials that giving officials more power is a Good Thing, our free society is founded on limiting their power. The case has not been made for push-button surveillance.

-ENDS-

Notes for editors:

1) http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/joint-select/draft-communications-bill/

2) NO2ID is the national campaign against the database state, the tendency to try to use computers to manage society by maintaining state files on people.

For further information, or for immediate or future interview, please contact:

Guy Herbert (General Secretary, general.secretary@no2id.net) on 07956 544 308
OR
James Baker (Campaigns Manager, campaigns@no2id.net) on 07817605 162

Coalition offers officials a surveillance free-for-all

Immediate – 13th June 2012

It is reported that on Thursday morning (14th June) the Home Secretary will announce a ‘Communications Data Bill’, the heavily-trailed Whitehall plan to get automatic access to records of ALL online activity in the UK.

First openly proposed by the Labour administration in 2008 [1], the bizarrely secret-but-widely-canvassed programme would force internet and telephone companies to keep detailed records of all their customers’ communications, downloads and browsing, location data and contacts. In the final vision, machines and software controlled by the authorities would be live on the net at all times and have privileges to crawl through the vast masses of data collected on the public.

Campaign group NO2ID [2] has previously pointed out that this scheme is ‘leapfrogging China’ and will ensure Britain remains the most watched society on earth. [3]

This is pretended to be ‘maintaining capacity’ – but the vital difference is not just a hugely greater scope of surveillance, but that it would not be limited by the need to ask anyone for the information.

What will be maintained is the system established in 2000 where surveillance is initiated without a warrant or any kind of scrutiny of individual cases. The Surveillance Commissioners are called ‘watchdogs’ but only check the procedure by which hundreds of official bodies authorize themselves, not their justification for doing it.

Guy Herbert, General Secretary of NO2ID said:

This makes Coalition promises to ‘roll-back the database state’ laughable. A system of secret, silent, total surveillance that can be turned on and off at will: a free-for-all for every official with an itch to investigate any citizen.

If it is to stop short of tyranny, then the watchers must be brought under a real rule of law. Before talking about expanding these powers, we should establish a simple rule with judges protecting our privacy unless there is good reason to invade it: no surveillance without a warrant.’

-ENDS-

Notes for editors:

1) ‘Jacqui Smith plans broad new ‘Big Brother’ surveillance powers’ – Telegraph 15 Oct 2008
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/3202766/Jacqui-Smith-plans-broad-new-Big-Brother-surveillance-powers.html

2) NO2ID is the national campaign against the database state, the tendency to try to use computers to manage society by maintaining state files on people.

3) ‘Home Office prepares to announce total surveillance plan – NO2ID 19 Feb 2012
http://press.mu.no2id.net/2012-02/home-office-prepares-to-announce-total-surveillance-plan/
That release contains much more background information.

For further information, or for immediate or future interview, please contact:
Guy Herbert (General Secretary, general.secretary@no2id.net) on 07956 544 308 (London)
or
James Baker (Campaigns Manager, campaigns@no2id.net) on 07817 605 162 (Leeds)

So much for civil liberties – coalition puts ‘a bug in every living room’

Immediate [not an April fool]

The Sunday Times this morning confirmed [1] earlier reports [2] that the government plans to force internet service providers to keep records of all browsing, email, gaming and chat use, and to make those records available to the authorities. It is now revealed the plan is to go further and allow real time snooping by the intelligence services. It will take place without a warrant, as most official surveillance already does [3].

Campaign group NO2ID [3] has previously pointed out that this scheme is ‘leapfrogging China’ and will ensure Britain remains the most watched society on earth.[4]

The coalition government appears to have reversed its position on privacy against the database state. This news follows a little-reported announcement by Francis Maude [5] that the coalition will ‘look again’ at broad data-sharing powers for government bodies abandoned by Jack Straw in 2009 [6]. Those plans would have allowed ministers to set aside confidentiality whenever it was convenient to them to use any information held about members of the public for new purposes.

Guy Herbert, General Secretary of NO2ID said:

Astonishing brass neck from the Home Office, attempting to feed us reheated leftovers from the authoritarian end of the Blair administration. It is not very far from a bug in every living room that can be turned on and turned off at official whim. Whatever you are doing online, whoever you are in contact with, you will never know when you are being watched. And nobody else will either, because none of it will need a warrant.

Put aside privacy – and the government has – the scheme is an astonishing waste of money. What problem does it solve that is worth billions?

-ENDS-

Notes for editors:

1) ‘Government to Snoop on all emails’ – David Leppard, Sunday Times 1 April 2012
www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/news/uk_news/…/article1007226.ece (£)
… internet companies will be told to install thousands of pieces of hardware to allow GCHQ… to scrutinise ‘on demand’ every phone call made, text message and email sent and website accessed in real time.

2) Eg. ‘Phone and email records to be stored in new spy plan’ – Sunday Telegraph 19 Feb 2012, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/internet/9090617/Phone-and-email-records-to-be-stored-in-new-spy-plan.html

3) The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 allows hundreds of official bodies to authorise themselves to use surveillance – powers used more than half a million times a year already

4) NO2ID is the national campaign against the database state, the tendency to try to use computers to manage society by maintaining state files on people. See www.no2id.net

5) ‘Home Office prepares to announce total surveillance plan’ – NO2ID 19 Feb 2012

http://press.mu.no2id.net/2012-02/home-office-prepares-to-announce-total-surveillance-plan/

That release contains much more background information.

6) Keynote speech to the Information Commissioner’s Conference, 6 MAR 2012

http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/news/information-commissioners-conference-francis-maude-keynote-speech

In May we will publish proposals that will make data sharing easier – and, in particular, we will revisit the recommendations of the Walport-Thomas Review that would make it easier for legitimate requests for data sharing to be agreed with a view to considering their implementation.

For further information, or for immediate or future interview, please contact:

Guy Herbert (General Secretary, general.secretary@no2id.net) on 07956 544 308
OR
James Baker (Campaigns Manager, campaigns@no2id.net) on 07817605 162