Surveillance

The U.K.'s Plan to 'Reform' Citizen Surveillance: More, More, More!

Proposal would make policy out of what they had been secretly doing all along.

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Got their eye on U.(K.)
GCHQ headquarters

It's impossible to write about government surveillance of citizens in Western countries without mentioning Edward Snowden. He's the reason we know as much as we do about government bulk collection of data about citizens in the United States, United Kingdom and other places.

As a direct result of Snowden's leaked information in the United States, we're replacing the domestic mass surveillance data collection with a system devised under the USA FREEDOM Act that restricts it (though, sadly, doesn't eliminate it entirely). No more bulk collection of all Americans' smart phone metadata from phone companies. Instead companies will store the data and the feds will have to provide more restrictive search terms to access the data. The data still doesn't have full Fourth Amendment protections, though.

The United Kingdom has its own surveillance systems and obviously its own laws. Today officials in the U.K. are announcing their reform plans in the wake of what Snowden has revealed, and they seem to have decided to lean into it. Rather than being ashamed of its mass surveillance, leaders want to embrace it and essentially make data collection of all its citizens a formal, legally enacted policy.

From The Guardian (the media outlet that broke the Snowden story back in the day):

New surveillance powers will be given to the police and security services, allowing them to access records tracking every UK citizen's use of the internet without any judicial check, under the provisions of the draft investigatory powers bill unveiled by [Home Secretary] Theresa May.

It includes new powers requiring internet and phone companies to keep "internet connection records" – tracking every website visited but not every page – for a maximum of 12 months but will not require a warrant for the police, security services or other bodies to access the data. Local authorities will be banned from accessing internet records.

The proposed legislation will also introduce a "double-lock" on the ministerial approval of interception warrants with a new panel of seven judicial commissioners – probably retired judges – given a veto before they can come into force.

But the details of the bill make clear that this new safeguard for the most intrusive powers to spy on the content of people's conversations and messages will not apply in "urgent cases" – defined as up to five days – where judicial approval is not possible.

May seems to be taking the "it's just metadata, not real information" attitude toward critics, even though there's been plenty of evidence at this point that metadata provides loads of real information about indviduals. If it didn't, why would governments be so insistent on collecting it?

Snowden has been tweeting his criticism of the proposal, calling it "the most intrusive and least accountable surveillance regime in the West."

Read more about the U.K.'s snooping proposal here, and read more about previous British Web surveillance revelations here

NEXT: Louisiana Police Kill Six-Year-Old at End of Car Chase

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  1. Nobody’s gonna out tard the limeytards, nobody.

  2. The proposed legislation will also introduce a “double-lock” on the ministerial approval of interception warrants with a new panel of seven judicial commissioners ? probably retired judges ? given a veto before they can come into force.

    I like this part. We just get a bunch of people who used to be in a position of power, throw them together, and call it a legitimate.

    1. The usual circular reasoning was pretty thick too; “We’ve set aside a panel *specifically for this purpose* but in a clutch situation, when decisions are tough, we might have to skirt that panel because it’s unfeasible.”

    2. This is, after all, the country whose rulers invented the Star Chamber.

  3. The Brits sure do seem to roll over for authority pretty easily.

    1. They roll over and then say ‘thank you massahs, may I have more?’

      What the hell has happened to the Brits? They used to be such a belligerent bunch and now they’ve turned into the biggest pussies ever.

      1. Casualties of WWI, leading to the loss of Empire plus 1945 Labour making UK into a socialist country. Like the rest of Western Europe, they decided that two World Wars mean everything they did up to that point was wrong and shamful, and they needed to go Socialist.

        1. Probably a mix of socialist totalitarianism and Shariah law. Sounds like a prog utopia to me.

        2. Probably a mix of socialist totalitarianism and Shariah law. Sounds like a prog utopia to me.

          1. And I really meant that, doubly so.

        3. Mustn’t forget the ignominious stain of colonialism, which, despite the high rates of immigration from former crown colonies, demonstrated just how wicked and corrupt Airstrip One is.

          1. As I said, everything they did up to and including WWI is shameful and must go. In Europe, 1945 is Year Zero.

            1. So no love for the Weimar Republic?

              /ducks

    2. “Lie back and think of England.”

  4. Yep ,that’s the way it works in country with out a written constitution. The parliament can pass whatever laws they want. The only thing that has stopped total lawlessness here is that written word. Many have and are trying to destroy it. England is a great example of two wolves and a sheep deciding on dinner.

    1. Yeah, thank Galt America has a Constitution to protect it from a burgeoning, secretive, unaccountable surveillance state.

      1. It would be a lot worse without the Constitution.

        1. The Constitution only works if the people enforcing it know/care about what’s going on. The only reason we know about the NSA is because someone decided to risk his life to tell us.

          1. There is still a difference. This is talking about how regular cops have access to all this information. That’s not the case here. They still need a warrant. Granted most warrants are rubber stamped, and the only penalty cops will see for illegally gathering evidence is seeing it tossed out of court (assuming the defendant hired their own lawyer instead of getting stuck with a public pretender), but it’s still quite a bit different.

          2. “But whether the Constitution really be one thing, or another, this much is certain – that it has either authorized such a government as we have had, or has been powerless to prevent it. In either case it is unfit to exist.”

            -Lysander Spooner

            1. Maybe the constitution has slowed or reduced the velocity or our fall into collectivism.The only way to reverse the trend is probably revolution.

      2. I understand what your saying.But,with the Engiish system the bill of rights would not exist. The frist and second amendment would be toast.Look at speech and gun rights there and in Europe ,Canada,ect.Imaginei what Bush and a his R congress,or,Obama and his D congress could have done.

        1. Yeah, the Constitution is horribly abused. But not quite completely ignored.

        2. Objection!

          Bill of Rights, 1689

          Some of these may seem familiar:

          subjects who are Protestants may bear arms for their defence as permitted by law;
          the right to petition the monarch should be without fear of retribution;
          the freedom of speech and debates or proceedings in Parliament should not to be impeached or questioned in any court or place out of Parliament;

          And one that caught my eye:
          promises of fines or forfeitures before conviction are void;

  5. It all boils down to the fact that governments do not like their people freely communicating amongst themselves with no supervision.

    1. It all boils down to the fact that governments do not like their people freely communicating amongst themselves doing anything with no supervision.

      ftfy

      1. It all boils down to the fact that governments do not like their people freely communicating amongst themselves doing anything with no supervision.

        FTFY

    2. Or owning guns,speaking their mind,defending themselves,letting people smoke on in their business ,and on and on.

    3. Which all boils down to them keeping their places of power.

  6. You know who else made policy out of what they had been secretly doing all along…

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  9. Keep going down that road Airstrip One. We are all just dying to see where it leads.

  10. All the blood that was shed during WW2 was in vein. Embracing the same old socialism, and totalitarianism that folks fought against all those years ago was a waste.

    This is one of the many reasons why we should not be involved in the affairs of other nations. These folks must fight for their own freedom. Maybe then will they fight to preserve it.

    Instead, all of these countries that used to have a large number of forces, must now rely on the U.S. Military for their protection, as they’ve shrunk their militaries to pay for all of their increases in gov’t largess. Who pays for the bloated DOD? The taxpayers (extortees).

    You hear all of this crap about how we are engaged in protracted conflict to promote freedom, and so on. If that were really the case, we should be the gleaming beacon of freedom. However, this is not the case at all. Gov’t grows larger, spies on the people, and continually tramples all over liberty.

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