United Kingdom

First Discussion, Then Total Surveillance

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The U.K. already has more surveillance cameras per capita than any other country. Now the British government plans to monitor every phone call, text message, email, and Web site visit, entering the information into an enormous database that would be used to catch terrorists, pedophiles, and scam artists. The London Times reports that "MI5 [the domestic spy agency] currently conducts limited e-mail and website intercepts which are approved under specific warrants by the home secretary." Dominic Grieve, the shadow home secretary, calls the plan "a substantial shift in the powers of the state to obtain information on individuals" and warns that "any suggestion of the government using existing powers to intercept communications data without public discussion is going to sound extremely sinister." You think?

Although the U.S. government is moving in the same direction, it is taking less dramatic steps and must overcome bigger political and legal obstacles. It's pretty clear from Grieve's comments that Britain will end up with something similar to the electronic dragnet the government wants, once the "public discussion" is out of the way. But such a move in this country would require either a constitutional amendment or a complete abdication of judicial responsibility. Although the courts have whittled away at the Fourth Amendment over the years, first to assist the War on Drugs and now to assist the War on Terror, it still counts for something. Or so I like to think.

[via The Freedom Files]

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  1. Wasn’t George Orwell a brit?

    I’m just saying, they have no excuse: They had their very own native prophet for this sort of shit.

  2. Wasn’t Jefferson an American?

  3. non-eMoose: He was a poor Ahmurcan, always talking about not trusting the govmint and not putting his country first.

  4. It’s not total surveillance. There isn’t a chip in their heads yet. Stop being such a bed-wetter, Jacob. What do you have to hide?

  5. They don’t need to change the constitution. Just have a old cia asset some secretive mossad group detonate a nuclear bomb on indianapolis and then order all the phone companies to help the government uncover the terrorist by complying with the new secret surveilance programs….then slowly let the details make there way out to the public and have the house pass a bill giving immunity to anybody who helps. Condemn anyone who disagrees as being a conspiracy nut or part of Al Qaeda. Dress up a brown skinned guy in a beard and have the captions spell out “Down with america and their xboxes and budweiser, we hate playboy magazine” then all the people will forget about the surveilance and beg for the chip.

  6. I think Orwell was a Brit. The funny part is that back in 1984, the year not book, people would have called you a paranoid idiot for claiming Brition would one day have the surveillance system now being discussed.

    Considering how Bush has changed the rules regarding our financial informtaion, I’m fairly confident that our government can come up with a way to permit this type of spying in the US without a Constitutional amendment. The Constitution says nothing of the type of communication we use now. Emails do not have the same 4th amendment rights as regular mail. Therefore it could be argued that digital versions of an older technology do not get the same protection as the original. Start with that premise, and throw in some terrorist will kill us if we don’t do it and it could succeed.

    It might be that we need another Constitutional amendment if we want protections to apply in the digital age.

    Besides people in the US are already giving in to Little Brother. Few People comment about the issue on H&R and didn’t Kerry Howley do an article on why we shouldn’t fight the future?

  7. A decorated former Israeli soldier in NJ overheard three fellow Israelis talking about the 9/11 Attacks months before they happened.

    He heard several things: One, the Twin Towers would be attacked with jets, two, The “Arabs are so stupid” they don’t know how we are using them!”, three, we have plenty of people in high places to insure the operation succeeds, and four, when it’s over the Americans will know what we go through.

    Sometimes people provide better evidence than cameras, but if it’s not politically correct, it is not acted upon.

  8. It wouldn’t surprise me if they start tracking visitors to sports shooting websites, given the way they’ve treated firearms enthusiasts in the UK in the past 15 or so years. After all, anyone interested in firearms must be a terrorist, criminal or crazy!

    This just in: Australia Labor Govt to prohibit opt-out of filtered Internet

  9. Although the courts have whittled away at the Fourth Amendment over the years, first to assist the War on Drugs and now to assist the War on Terror, it still counts for something.

    Don’t forget the war on drunk driving, which while it should technically be considered part of the WOD, isn’t. Honestly Jacob, I can’t think of any flagrant violations of the forth amendment the government has wanted to perform and been thwarted.

  10. DW, got a link for that story?

  11. Warren, please do not compare getting high in your living room with drunk driving. One of these endangers the safety of others, the other does not.

  12. The Last Enemy seems more and more real…

  13. I find it baffling that government officials still believe to this day that expanding state surveillance exponentially will lead to better security or more effective population control. Didn’t the Stasi implement this model long ago? How did that work out?

  14. “…and Web site visit, entering the information into an enormous database that would be used to catch terrorists, pedophiles, scam artists, and REASON commenters.”

    Uh, this was an accidental post. Uh, the cleaning lady must have accidently hit the URL for the site when she was dusting the keyboard, I swear!!! I don’t know anything about those libertarian antigovernemnt nuts!!! I don’t know who Sugarfree is! Um, I mean sugardfree is like splenda, only more tart?

  15. Although the courts have whittled away at the Fourth Amendment over the years, first to assist the War on Drugs and now to assist the War on Terror, it still counts for something. Or so I like to think.

    Aww… that’s so cute that you still believe in Constitutional protections.

  16. The foreign secretary requests that Reason, from now on, refer to the United Kingdom by its official name, Airstrip One.

  17. Tom Walls,

    Wow.

    Fucking wow.

    That’s…

    Wow.

  18. Can we add the war on tobacco yet?

  19. I, for one,welcome our new DBA overlords.

  20. The FBI is now able to do “assessments” (whatever that means) on US citizens without warrants, probably cause, or reasonable suspiscion. I’d bet that reviewing your Internet travels are already fair game as part of that assessment. It will be interesting to see if anything used in a trial from an FBI assessment will be legal.

  21. DW, got a link for that story?

    Please do not feed the Truthers. It only agitates them…they can smell the menstruation!

  22. If the UK starts to monitor and log everything, it’s worth noting that a good fraction of US electronic communications pass through their net. Our governments are of course very friendly, and have a long history of sharing intelligence.

    But, no one cares. Folks aren’t going to be concerned about privacy until something happens that shows people how little they have. Something like google records being left public or something. It’s amazing how little awareness or concern there is about the issue.

  23. But such a move in this country would require… a complete abdication of judicial responsibility.

    So, any minute now.

  24. What’s wrong, no one else can type Israel intelligence 9/11 in an Internet browser?

    This site has some interesting stuff.
    http://www.historycommons.org/entity.jsp?entity=israel_institute_for_intelligence_and_special_tasks

    I have heard DW’s claim and seen it reported before, it’s nothing new. It would be hard to corroborate what the alleged intel officer said. Isn’t that usually the case with intel officers? But something interesting as reported by that site, is the 5 israelis that were arrested, their relation to a moving company when we had reports that Mossad was spying in the US and using moving companies as a cover.

    It is possible that Israel would want us to experience an event that would make their war our war since they haven’t made much headway in their history. That doesn’t mean they were behind it, even if an Mossad agent believes it to be true.

    TAO, I see your tactic. If DW replys, you link him to the truthers so you can beat him over the head with guilty by association.

  25. “”” Something like google records being left public or something. It’s amazing how little awareness or concern there is about the issue.”””

    Which is why DHS wants to define privacy as the protection of your information. Your scenario would be considered a breach of privacy by the feds, the citizens would agree, promises would be made, and everything returns to what it was, the spying continues.

  26. It is worth remembering that all of this has happened under the Labour Party’s, the closest UK analog to the US Democrats, watch and not the Tories (conservative party). After all, what are a few cameras when the Labour Party is the party of the children? Won’t you think about the children?

    given the way they’ve treated firearms enthusiasts in the UK in the past 15 or so years.

    The attack on firearm owners has been bloody well going on longer than 15 years. When I last renewed my UK shotgun certificate (lived in UK 76-83 & 86-92)I had to have the form signed by the local cop with him attesting to my character. The wife beating piece of shit cop (it was a small village in the highlands, everyone knew everyone’s business)was testifying to the strength of my character, effing amazing.

    Besides having Joe Bidden as a Senator, living in Scotland all those years (17.4% VAT & 50% taxes) is what changed me to be so anti-Democratic Party. I am only pro-Republican by default.

    Spreading the wealth in the UK means my lay about (ex-) brother-in-laws, both in perfect health, are probably sitting in their council flats in New Castle watch TV – drunk- and planning their next trips to Spain for holiday while only doing the odd job on the side without paying any taxes. Assholes both, though they are not alone.

  27. That doesn’t mean they were behind it, even if an Mossad agent believes it to be true.

    Then why the hell talk about it?

    Implying that Israel somehow knew/instigated the event is dirty fucking pool and about as low as it gets.

  28. oh, and untrue, as an added bonus.

  29. A decorated former Israeli soldier in NJ overheard three fellow Israelis talking about the 9/11 Attacks months before they happened.

    I bet it was that guy who “wasn’t” sleeping with the Governor.

    Australia Labor Govt to prohibit opt-out of filtered Internet

    Holy crap. That’s so People’s Republic.

  30. oh, and untrue, as an added bonus.

    IOW, if it were true, it would be “dirty fucking pool and about as low as it gets” to mention it?

  31. So you hate people that have a different opinion of 9/11 than you do, I get that.

  32. Seamus – I was being glib.

    TrickyVic – I don’t see anything in that abcnews link but speculation and sensationalism.

  33. Best way to fuck up a system of total surveilence is to jam it up (just like the best way to beat a procedure driven asshole boss is to follow the procedures to the letter, no matter how stupid).

    Include in every message you can, something about nuclear this and bomb that and shoot everything else (hmmm…perhaps including “immagine if the krauts had dropped a nuclear bomb on London in 1940” or some variation). The avalanche of chaff messages will make the system so worthless they’ll give up on wide spread monitoring.

  34. “””TrickyVic – I don’t see anything in that abcnews link but speculation and sensationalism.”””

    Because that’s all you wanted to see. Which of those does the actual arrest of the guys in the van fall under

  35. The avalanche of chaff messages will make the system so worthless they’ll give up on wide spread monitoring.

    That’s all true, and arguably wide spread monitoring doesn’t work for those types of reasons, even if people aren’t deliberately feeding false positives into the system.

    But what if wide spread monitoring is only the excuse to collect large amounts of data, but instead of data mining to find targets, they start with the specific target and pull out as much information as they want about those specific people or groups? It’s much easier to attack your political opponents if you have massive amounts of private data on them.

    I would imagine there is much less chance of being targeted as a result of the data collection, and a much greater chance that those that would already be targeted anyway would have more available information to be used against them.

  36. Tulpa:

    http://www.muckrakerreport.com/id324.html

    I tried to send you a direct email but got a server error twice

  37. I always thought it was interesting that the former italian president said 9/11 was a Mossad CIA job and it was common knowledge amongst intelligence professionals.

    Former Italian President Francesco Cossiga .
    Google it, see if you believe any of the hundeds of links to this.

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  40. I am sure the next step will be to require everyone to carry cell phones. There was a case in GB a few months back where two men were prosecuted on terrorism charges. Part of the evidence was that they sometimes left their phones at home when they went out. A condition of their release was that they carry phones with them at all times. The telcos can turn the phones on and use them to eavesdrop anything said near them w/o your knowledge. Wouldn’t surprise me if they can see through the camera, that’s probably why all phones now have them.

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