You’d better get ready – it’s on its way.
Clegg has promised that the bill to permit tracking and logging of email, Facebook, text and internet activities, now removed from the crime bill prior to the Queen’s speech so as not to get it bogged down (the bill, not the speech), will not be eventually “rammed through parliament” when it reappears, but “open parliamentary hearings will be held to examine draft clauses of the legislation.” (via the Guardian)
This is the purest, triple-distilled, bovine ordure.
As we know from the Welfare bill, the NHS bill, and the Legal Aid bill, hearings, “listening processes”, risk assessments, House of Lords amendments, any damn thing at all – nothing is allowed to stand in the way of what Cameron wants. Allegedly, this is what the police and security services want, which I don’t doubt, but have no doubt at all that Cameron, the ultimate control freak, is 100% backing this.
This guy, for this, and for other reasons, which I’ve covered at length, is rapidly becoming dangerous – this is surveilance on a scale previously unheard of outside of totalitarian states – make no mistake, what we have here is a dictator. He might wear sharp suits, and – apparently – smear his porky self all over with Brylcreem (there’s an image you’ll never get out of your head 😉 ), but he’s a psychopath to his very core.
This as yet unnamed bill will, when passed (“if passed” isn’t even worth considering), will allow tracking of everyone’s email, Facebook, text and internet use** (this is not the same legislation, as far as I can tell, that will require you to register if you want online porn, or even if you resent censorship). It is a charter to allow the police and assorted spooks to spy on what anyone does online, no matter how innocent. It will also allow government to spy on, well, pretty much everybody. And if you think the courts might get in the way of that, think again.
**Twitter doesn’t get a mention, so far, yet surely any nefarious (i.e. not approved of by the puritanical and deeply strange Cameron), activity will take place on locked accounts? Or maybe plod can’t type fast enough to keep up? I do think, though, that we’re going to have to scrutinise closely anyone who follows us before following them back, and be far more rigorous with blocking anyone who seems dodgy. And think twice about having open accounts.
Of course, when the bill treks its weary and doubtless mendacious way through parliament, Cameron won’t be able to use the “It’s a Money Bill, the Lords can’t obstruct it,” (Parliament Act, 1949), excuse this time, to overrule the Lords, but he still has recourse to other features of The Parliament Acts to ensure he gets his way. The best the Lords can hope for, in general, is to delay for a year, after which period, the Commons gets its way. Or, rather, Cameron’s way.
And you can be sure, that the use of anonymising services, like Tor, or encrypted email (encrypted Twitter, anyone?), would be made criminal offences. That’s what I’d do, and I doubt Cameron and co. will miss that.
So sooner or later, during the course of the next parliament, and my guess would be sooner rather than later, everything we do and say, electronically, will be recorded somewhere.
Of course, it could just be a plot by Royal Mail to bump up postal revenues, but I really wouldn’t bank on that. 😉
And, once the surveilance is in place, how long before Internet activists start appearing in court on trumped-up charges? Paranoia? I wish it were. This bill is only partially concerned with crime and terrorism, a large part of it is, basically, spying on honest, law-abiding, citizens for the purposes of control.
That, noise in the background? The shade of Eric Blair, laughing his spectral nuts off!