Category Archives: UK Police/Surveillance

ISIS Recruiter Who Radicalised London Bridge Attackers Was Protected by MI5

Nafeez Ahmed reports for Insurge Intelligence:

The terrorists who rampaged across London on the night of 3 June were part of a wider extremist network closely monitored by MI5 for decades. The same network was heavily involved in recruiting Britons to fight with jihadist groups in Syria, Iraq and Libya.

Police have confirmed that Khuram Shazad Butt, Rachid Redouane and Youssef Zaghba were the three terrorists shot dead after participating in a brutal van and knife attack in the London Bridge area.

According to press reports, both Butt and Redouane were longstanding members of the proscribed extremist network formerly known as al-Muhajiroun. After 9/11, the group operated under different names such as Shariah4UK, Muslims4Crusades and Islam4UK. Originally founded by Lebanese firebrand, Omar Bakri Mohammed, who was banned from returning to the UK after the 7/7 attacks, the network was later run by Bakri’s deputy, Anjem Choudary.

Choudary was convicted in 2016 for supporting and encouraging support for ISIS.

Yet the press has largely ignored the extent to which Choudary’s uncanny freedom to operate in Britain, and to send British Muslims to fight in foreign theatres, was linked to his opaque relationship to Britain’s security services.

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London Terrorism: Trump Attacks Mayor, Corbyn Calls for May to Step Down as PM

Amy Goodman and Nermeen Shaikh speak with Guardian columnist and author Paul Mason after three attackers killed seven people and injured 48 more on Saturday night in London. The three attackers were shot dead by police. It’s the third terror attack in the U.K. in three months. British Prime Minister Theresa May has vowed a sweeping review of the nation’s counterterrorism strategy. All of this comes as the country gears up for national parliamentary elections scheduled for this Thursday. Prime Minister May has also called for increased web surveillance so the internet is no longer a “safe space” for terrorists. Meanwhile, President Donald Trump used the London attacks to call for the United States to impose his proposed Muslim travel ban. (Democracy Now!)

Theresa May Calls for International Regulation of Cyberspace in Wake of Attacks

Rhett Jones reports for Gizmodo:

[..] So far, seven people have died as a result of the attack and 48 were injured. It follows a separate incident in March when pedestrians were hit by a car on Westminster Bridge, and an attack in May in which concertgoers in Manchester were assaulted by a suicide bomber. According to the prime minister, the terror attacks are not linked by “common networks”, but the close proximity of these tragedies are certain to create a heightened urgency for politicians to demonstrate that something is being done to prevent another

“Everybody needs to go about their lives as they normally would,” Prime Minister May told reporters in a statement. “Our society should continue to function in accordance with our values.” But that was the extent of May’s acknowledgement that society should not allow terrorism to dictate how we live. She then shifted to statements like, “There is, to be frank, far too much tolerance of extremism in our country.” It was an odd thing to say. Is there really a “tolerance of extremism” in the western world, or is it more a case of not wanting to sacrifice freedoms in accordance with the wishes of terrorists?

The statement was light on particulars, but greater policing of the internet was a key point that May hammered on multiple times. “We cannot allow this ideology the safe space it needs to breed,” she said. “Yet that is precisely what the internet and the big companies that provide internet-based services provide.” Her most specific and unnerving comment was, “We need to work with allied democratic governments to reach international agreements that regulate cyberspace to prevent the spread of extremist and terrorism planning.”

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Theresa May Pushes Internet Regulation After London Attack

Jason Ditz reports for Antiwar:

Facebook and WhatsApp iconBritish Prime Minister Theresa May wasted no time after yesterday’s London Bridge terror attack in announcing that she will be pushing a new series of international agreements aimed at global regulation of speech on the Internet, claiming that extremists have been using “safe spaces online” in their terror attacks.

While this is being couched today as a reaction to the London attack, the reality is that this is a long-standing goal of Britain’s Tory government, with the Conservative Party’s current manifesto vowing efforts to force Internet providers to participate in “counter-extremism” efforts that would tightly regulate speech.

The manifesto’s plan goes well beyond just terrorism, looking to regulate speech broadly defined by the ruling party as “harmful,” and also to severely curtail the access of pornographic materials on the Internet. The pornography angle is, obviously, not being mentioned in connection to the London attack.

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Blaming Islam: Religion Isn’t a Crucial Factor In Terror Attacks

Mehdi Hasan reported for The Intercept in March:

What do you think of when you hear the word “terrorist”? Big beards and brown skins? Turban-wearing Muslim migrants from the Middle East? Refugees maybe?

Yet according to a report from the New America Foundation, “every jihadist who conducted a lethal attack inside the United States since 9/11 was a citizen or legal resident.” A recent study in Britain, which last week endured its worst terrorist atrocity since 2005, revealed that more than two out of three “Islamism-inspired” terrorist offenses were carried out by individuals “who were either born or raised in the UK.”

The common stereotype of the Middle Eastern, Muslim-born terrorist is not just lazy and inaccurate, but easy fodder for the anti-immigrant, anti-Islam far right. Consider the swift reaction of White House official Sebastian Gorka to the horrific terror attack in London last week. “The war is real,” he told Fox News while the bodies of the victims were still warm, “and that’s why executive orders like President Trump’s travel moratorium are so important.”

Sorry, what? The 52-year-old perpetrator of the London attack, Khalid Masood, was born and brought up in the UK and would not have been affected in the slightest by a travel ban on Muslims from the Middle East. He was neither a refugee nor an immigrant. He was not of Middle Eastern origin either, and he was not even a Muslim for the vast majority of his life. Born to a white mother and black father as Adrian Elms, and raised as Adrian Ajao, he is believed to have converted to Islam in prison in 2003 and had a well-documented history of criminality prior to mowing down innocent pedestrians on Westminster Bridge, and stabbing a police officer outside the Houses of Parliament.

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Unchecked Surveillance Technology Is Leading Us Towards Totalitarianism

Cory Doctorow writes for the International Business Times:

Image result for Unchecked Surveillance Technology Is Leading Us Towards TotalitarianismI appeared at an event in New York this week with Edward Snowden to discuss how computers can be a tool for liberation instead of coercive control. The resounding optimistic feeling was that while networks can let Facebook gut our future, they can also be used to seize it.

I appeared at an event in New York this week with Edward Snowden to discuss how computers can be a tool for liberation instead of coercive control. The resounding optimistic feeling was that while networks can let Facebook gut our future, they can also be used to seize it.

These institutions use the information to circumvent  hard won constitutional protections. Western military contractors export these tools to oppressive dictatorships, creating “turnkey surveillance states”. In Ethiopia, the ruling junta has used hacking tools to break into the computers of exiled dissidents in the USA. The information they stole was used to target activists in Ethiopia for arbitrary detention and torture.

In my science fiction novel Walkaway, I see an optimistic escape from the looming surveillance disaster. It imagines people oppressed by surveillance might “walk away” and found a parallel society where citizens’ technological know-how creates a world of fluid, improvisational technological play.

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Leaked: UK’s Secret Blueprint with Telcos for Mass Spying on Internet, Phones and Backdoors

Kieren McCarthy reports for The Register:

Image composite Alex Yeung, NesaCera, NesaCera ShutterstockThe UK government has secretly drawn up more details of its new bulk surveillance powers – awarding itself the ability to monitor Brits’ live communications, and insert encryption backdoors by the backdoor.

In its draft technical capability notices paper [PDF], all communications companies – including phone networks and ISPs – will be obliged to provide real-time access to the full content of any named individual within one working day, as well as any “secondary data” relating to that person.

That includes encrypted content – which means that UK organizations will not be allowed to introduce true end-to-end encryption of their users’ data but will be legally required to introduce a backdoor to their systems so the authorities can read any and all communications.

In addition, comms providers will be required to make bulk surveillance possible by introducing systems that can provide real-time interception of 1 in 10,000 of its customers. Or in other words, the UK government will be able to simultaneously spy on 6,500 folks in Blighty at any given moment.

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Investigatory Powers: ‘Real-time surveillance’ in draft update

Leaked document reveals UK plans for wider internet surveillance

Media Hype About Westminster Attack Will Only Encourage Others

Simon Jenkins writes for The Guardian:

Image result for Westminster AttackOn Wednesday afternoon a car went on to the pavement on Westminster bridge and killed three passersby. A man leapt out and stabbed a policeman. He was shot. No one knew who he was, only that he was dark-skinned and bearded. The police later released the names of those who tragically died in this dreadful incident. The possibly intended victims – members of parliament – were not harmed.

That is how we normally report the people who die by knifing in London each year, usually by those who are enraged or mentally deranged. Yet more are run down by cars. This is sad but not unusual. Some of those involved are Muslims. Of course it seems different when the attack is on an iconic site in central London, but that is merely how it seems.

What made Wednesday different was its instant subjection to an avalanche of supposition and speculation. This was a choice made by the media and political community, a choice to direct the view of a terrible incident entirely in one direction, even when nothing was known of its cause. Because it looked like a terrorist incident – albeit ham-fisted – and it was not initially known if it was a decoy, it was assumed to be such. Without a shred of evidence, and no “claimed responsibility”, the airwaves and press were flooded with assumptions that it was “Isis-inspired”. It was squeezed for every conceivable ounce of sensation and emotion.

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Westminster attacker acted alone and motive may never be known, say police

The Westminster attack was not new, London has faced far worse

Crude nature of Westminster attack suggests limited Isis network in Britain

 

The UK’s ‘National Security’ Plan? It’s a Blueprint for a Police State

Nafeez Ahmed writes for Middle East Eye:

In early December, the British government released its first annual report on the National Security Strategy and Strategic Defence and Security Review.

Despite the total media blackout, the document reveals in stark detail the Conservative government’s plans to expand Britain’s military activities around the world.

In the name of defending “national security”, Britain is building a “permanent” military presence in the Gulf to defend Britain’s access to regional energy resources; deploying more troops into Eastern Europe, near Russia’s border; and drumming up support for rampant arms sales to despots in search of better tools to repress their own populations. This is all happening as it promotes economic aid as a mechanism to open up poorer economies to “UK businesses”.

To illustrate the levels of official delusion that saturate the thinking behind this document, it opens with a foreword from Prime Minister Theresa May, which describes “the phenomenon of mass migration” as “one of the global challenges of our times”, having “become more pronounced in the last 12 months”.

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British Councils Used RIPA to Secretly Spy on Public

Anushka Asthana reports for The Guardian:

Image result for British Councils RIPACouncils were given permission to carry out more than 55,000 days of covert surveillance over five years, including spying on people walking dogs, feeding pigeons and fly-tipping, the Guardian can reveal.

A mass freedom of information request has found 186 local authorities – two-thirds of the 283 that responded – used the government’s Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (Ripa) to gather evidence via secret listening devices, cameras and private detectives.

Among the detailed examples provided were Midlothian council using the powers to monitor dog barking and Allerdale borough council gathering evidence about who was guilty of feeding pigeons.

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The Tory Snoopers’ Charter Is Now Law

Thomas G. Clark writes for Another Angry Voice:

The Snooper’s Charter became law on the 29th of November 2016 meaning that the United Kingdom now has by far the most invasive state surveillance laws of any nation in the developed world.

The invasive domestic snooping legislation means that the UK state will attempt to maintain a massive database recording the Internet browsing history of every person in the UK, innocent or guilty. They will then allow dozens and dozens of government agencies and quangos to trawl through this database looking for dirt.

Of course it makes sense to allow the secret services to look into what suspected terrorists are plotting, but this legislation doesn’t just do that. It goes much much further. The first thing it does is presume that every single UK citizen is a potential criminal who needs to be spied on, then it allows all kinds of non-terrorism related agencies to trawl through people’s Internet browsing histories.

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Snoopers Charter and Section 40 Likely to Push UK Further Down Press Freedom Index

Dominic Ponsford reports for Press Gazette:

Reporters Without Borders mapThe UK is likely to slip further down the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) World Press Freedom Index when it is published next year, according to the charity’s UK bureau director, Rebecca Vincent.

She was speaking to Press Gazette ahead of the launch of the organisation’s first UK office in London next month.

The UK is currently ranked 38th out of 180 countries around the world on press freedom by Reporters Without Borders, which Vincent said is “not great for a democracy”.

She added: “I think it’s likely that the UK will slide further down the list when the new index is released next year. We should be really concerned about that downward trend.”

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Say Goodbye To Your Privacy: UK Government Just Passed The Most Extreme Surveillance Law In History

Silkie Carlo, policy officer at Liberty, writes for The Independent:

theresa-may2.gifThis week a law was passed that silently rips privacy from the modern world. It’s called the Investigatory Powers Act.

Under the guise of counter-terrorism, the British state has achieved totalitarian-style surveillance powers – the most intrusive system of any democracy in history. It now has the ability to indiscriminately hack, intercept, record, and monitor the communications and internet use of the entire population.

The hundreds of chilling mass surveillance programmes revealed by Edward Snowden in 2013 were – we assumed – the result of a failure of the democratic process. Snowden’s bravery finally gave Parliament and the public the opportunity to scrutinise this industrial-scale spying and bring the state back into check.

But, in an environment of devastatingly poor political opposition, the Government has actually extended state spying powers beyond those exposed by Snowden – setting a “world-leading” precedent.

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Snoopers Charter: ‘Extreme Surveillance’ Becomes UK Law with Barely a Whimper

Ewen MacAskill reports for The Guardian:

Image result for Investigatory Powers ActA bill giving the UK intelligence agencies and police the most sweeping surveillance powers in the western world has passed into law with barely a whimper, meeting only token resistance over the past 12 months from inside parliament and barely any from outside.

The Investigatory Powers Act, passed on Thursday, legalises a whole range of tools for snooping and hacking by the security services unmatched by any other country in western Europe or even the US.

The security agencies and police began the year braced for at least some opposition, rehearsing arguments for the debate. In the end, faced with public apathy and an opposition in disarray, the government did not have to make a single substantial concession to the privacy lobby.

US whistleblower Edward Snowden tweeted: “The UK has just legalised the most extreme surveillance in the history of western democracy. It goes further than many autocracies.”

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New Snowden Leaks Reveal “Collect It All” Surveillance Was Born in the UK

Glynn Moody reports for Arstechnica:

The radical shift in the NSA’s surveillance strategy to “collect it all” began in the UK, according to new revelations in the latest cache of documents leaked by Edward Snowden.

During a June 2008 visit to the Menwith Hill monitoring station in North Yorkshire, then-director of the NSA Keith Alexander asked: “Why can’t we collect all the signals, all the time?” He went on: “Sounds like a good summer homework project for Menwith!”

Menwith Hill Station—which formerly monitored Soviet signals and is now the NSA’s largest overseas spying base—expanded greatly in the wake of Alexander’s challenge, as The Intercept reports in its coverage of the new Snowden documents.

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Cassetteboy vs The Snoopers’ Charter

If you’re not worried about the Investigatory Powers Bill (aka the Snoopers’ Charter), you don’t know enough about it. Visit https://www.privacyinternational.org and join the campaign against new Government snooping powers. (Cassetteboy)

Theresa May: Where the New PM Stands on Science and Technology

As home secretary, Theresa May has often demanded the scientifically impossible. (New Scientist)

The Snooper’s Charter and Chilcot: Interview with Annie Machon

Afshin Rattansi speaks to former MI5 agent Annie Machon about the dangers of drowning in data as the House of Lords discusses the Snoopers Charter. They also cover the long awaited Chilcot Inquiry into the Iraq War which is due to be published in a couple of weeks, seven years since it began. (Going Underground)

Ex-NSA/CIA Director Michael Hayden: Secretive Spooks Tolerated in UK More Than in US

Mark Brown reports for The Guardian:

British people are not demanding more transparency from the intelligence services as loudly as Americans, the former director of the US National Security Agency (NSA) and CIA has said.

Michael Hayden played a pivotal, leading role in American intelligence until he was replaced as director of the CIA shortly into the presidency of Barack Obama.

In a wide-ranging talk on the fourth day of the Hay festival, Hayden addressed CIA torture, targeted killings, what he thinks about Edward Snowden and how Facebook is perhaps a greater threat to privacy than government.

Hayden said the security services were changing faster in the US than the UK. “You as a population are far more tolerant of aggressive action on the part of your intelligence services than we are in the United States,” he said.

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CCTV System Lets Police Access Thousands of Surveillance Cameras in Public Places

Cheyenne MacDonald reports for The Daily Mail:

A newly developed system could allow law enforcement to tap into thousands of public surveillance cameras. Created by researchers at Purdue University, the system would let officials see locations and viewing angles of the CCTVs used in parking garages, college campuses, national parks, highways, and other public spacesA newly developed system could allow law enforcement to tap into thousands of public surveillance cameras.

Created by researchers at Purdue University, the system would let officials see locations and viewing angles of the cameras used in garages, campuses, highways, and other public spaces.

The developers say this could be used to increase public safety, helping law enforcement to quickly respond when necessary, and plan rescues during natural disasters or other public emergencies.

CCTVs, surveillance cameras which run within closed circuits, are only available to authorized personnel.

‘However, in recent years many organizations have deployed cameras for a wide range of purposes, and these are accessible to the public without the need for a password,’ said Yung-Hsiang Lu, an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering.

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Hillsborough Families’ 27-Year Struggle For Truth Vindicated

David Conn writes for The Guardian:

A 27-year struggle for truth by the families of the 96 people killed at the Hillsborough football stadium has been vindicated after new inquests into the disaster determined that they had been unlawfully killed.

The jury was directed by the coroner, Sir John Goldring, that their verdict meant that the Liverpool supporters died because of failings of the police officer in command at the FA Cup semi-final on 15 April 1989, South Yorkshire Ch Supt David Duckenfield.

Tuesday’s ruling swept aside claims that fans were drunk, stole from the bodies, and urinated on officers. It also laid bare the actions of the police that day such as taking blood samples, including some from children, to suggest that fans had been drinking, and the concocting of notes afterwards to support their narrative that it was the behaviour of the fans that led to the tragedy.

In a verdict that represents one of the most damning indictments of a British police force, the jury answered 14 questions about what happened at the football ground, concluding comprehensively that it was actions of South Yorkshire police officers that were the principal cause of the disaster.

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With the Snoopers’ Charter, Our Digital Security Is Under Attack in the Name of Total Surveillance

Silkie Carlo writes for The Huffington Post:

There’s a reason most of us lock our phones with a passcode. We know they’ve become a window into our private lives, much more revealing than a rifle through our diaries or bedside drawers. They contain our contacts, banking details, confidential work emails and personal messages – highly valuable in the wrong hands.

So if a stranger approached you in the street and asked to see your browsing history or text messages, you’d naturally recoil. And that’s exactly how people responded when Liberty sent Olivia Lee out to do just that. Even Home Office staff couldn’t see why she should get to hoover up everybody’s communications data.

But under the Investigatory Powers Bill, the latest resurrection of the Snoopers’ Charter, we won’t get a choice.

The Bill seeks to legalise the disturbing mass surveillance powers exposed by Edward Snowden, and add even more intrusive ones for good measure. It will all but end the ability of ordinary people to correspond in private – even with doctors, lawyers or journalists. And the Government thinks people don’t care enough to raise their voices and stop it becoming law.

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Cassetteboy vs The Snoopers’ Charter

The one and only Casetteboy recently made a Snoopers Charter video for Privacy International: “If you’re not worried about the Investigatory Powers Bill (aka the Snoopers’ Charter), you don’t know enough about it.” Learn more by visiting https://www.privacyinternational.org  (Casetteboy)

United Nations Warns UK Government to ‘Stop Tasering Children’

Mark Leftly reports for The Independent:

4-taser-graphic.jpgThe United Nations will condemn and publicly shame the Government in May for allowing police to use 50,000-volt stun guns on children, as well as stopping and searching toddlers.

The Government faces a six-hour grilling in Switzerland over the extent of its compliance with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which the UK signed in 1990 and ratified the following year.

The last time the UK was measured up against the convention, in 2008, the UN said that it wanted England and Wales to treat “Taser guns and AEPs [attenuating energy projectiles] as weapons subject to the applicable rules and restrictions and put an end to the use of all harmful devices on children”. British police started using Tasers in 2003.

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Phone Hackers: Britain’s Secret Surveillance

IMSI catchers are portable surveillance tools used for spying on thousands of phones in a targeted area, tracking their location and even intercepting calls, messages, and data. They are supposed to help identify serious criminals, but cannot operate without monitoring innocent people too. UK police have IMSI catchers, but they refuse to tell the public how and when they are used. This has privacy campaigners worried. And, even if the state is using them sparingly, what if criminals also have access to the technology? VICE News searches London for IMSI catchers, then goes shopping at a state security fair, and finally finds a shady technology company who’ll sell us the spy gear. (VICE News)

Bumbling would-be UK bomber asked Twitter followers for target suggestions

Glyn Moody reports for Ars Technica:

TwitterA would-be UK bomber and his wife have been found guilty by the Old Bailey court of plotting to carry out an explosion in London to mark the tenth anniversary of the 2005 suicide attacks that took place in the same city. Both have been sentenced to life imprisonment: a minimum of 27 years for Mohammed Rehman, and a minimum of 25 years for his ex-wife Sana Ahmed Khan.

A report by The Guardian explains the case: “Mohammed Rehman, 25, who secretly wed Sana Ahmed Khan, 24, intended to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the 7/7 atrocities with blasts that would have inflicted mass casualties in either Westfield shopping centre, west London, or the London Underground.”

Remarkably, Rehman took to Twitter to ask for advice on which of those two targets he should choose: “Westfield shopping centre or London underground?” Rehman asked. “Any advice would be appreciated greatly.” The post carried a link to an al-Qaida press release about the 2005 London bombings. Sky News reports that Rehman’s Twitter name was “Silent Bomber,” with the handle@InService2Godd. As if that weren’t enough, his Twitter bio read: “Learn how to make powerful explosives from the comfort of ones’ bedroom.” The Twitter account has since been suspended.

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Why police don’t pull guns in many countries

Sara Miller Llana reports for Christian Science Monitor:

The officer, alert but cautious, pounds on the suspect’s door. “Polizei!” he says forcefully, in his native German. A man thrusts open the door and walks out. His hands are at his side, but the policeman notices a gun tucked into the man’s belt. He pulls out his own firearm in response. He then moves briskly backward, coaxing the man to place his weapon on the ground.

The cop is commended for his actions.

The next officer up bangs on the same door. “Polizei!,” he says. This time the person walks out carrying a baton, not a gun. So the cop doesn’t pull out his pistol. He brandishes instead a can of pepper spray – a reflex response that also garners praise afterward.

The scene here in what looks like an outdoor movie set seems as if it would be basic enough training at almost any police academy in the world. But today’s course for the new recruits in the Ruhr Valley in western Germany represents just one small part of an educational process that will last for three years, during which the officers will be drilled in alternatives to pulling a trigger. Today’s shooting training is subtitled, tellingly, “Don’t shoot.” And it’s far from the only lesson they’ll receive in restraint. Each recruit earns a bachelor’s degree as part of basic police training – a requisite before getting a badge and a beat.

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David Davis: ‘We haven’t had a Stasi or a Gestapo in Britain, so are intellectually lazy about surveillance’

Stephen Moss writes for The Guardian:

David DavisDavid Davis looks tired and puffy-eyed. It’s the morning after Theresa May’s unveiling of the government’s flagship investigatory powers bill, and he has spent the night getting to grips with its 296 pages. The battle over the bill is going to last for months and Davis, who from the Conservative backbenches has become one of the foremost defenders of civil liberties, will be leading the critics, but he knows this initial period is crucial in shaping public attitudes.

“The government had the most amazing propaganda blitz,” he says. “GCHQ had a three-day advertorial in the Times with gushing pieces from young journos, so we knew we were going to get some sort of heavy-duty spin on all of this, and the spin was in my direction – we’re going to be more transparent, we’re going to have more accountability, we’re going to bring in the judiciary, we’re going to limit it. All of it turns out to have been overstated. They’re making lots of rhetorical moves in the right direction, but the substance doesn’t add up. There are loads and loads of holes in it. My impression is they didn’t finish writing the bill until the day before they published it.”

Davis, who with Labour deputy leader Tom Watson mounted a successful legal challenge to controversial aspects of the 2014 act that currently governs the retention of communications data, is now readying himself to try to fill in those holes. But the problem for critics of the bill, he says, is that the public doesn’t care enough about encroachments on their freedom.

“It’s astonishing how few people take an interest in this country,” he says. “In every other country in the world, post-Snowden, people are holding their government’s feet to the fire on these issues, but in Britain we idly let this happen. We’re the country that invented James Bond and we like our spies. We have a wonderful illusion about our security services, a very comforting illusion. But it means we’re too comfortable. Because for the past 200 years we haven’t had a Stasi or a Gestapo, we are intellectually lazy about it, so it’s an uphill battle. Even people who are broadly on my side of the political spectrum in believing in privacy and liberty tend to take the state at its word too often.”

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The snooper’s charter: One misspelled Google search for ‘bong-making’ and you’ll be in an orange jumpsuit

Frankie Boyle writes for The Guardian:

Theresa May, with the general air of a hawk that had a This Morning makeover, has launched the new investigatory powers bill. No more drunken Googling: all it takes is a misspelled search for “bong-making” and suddenly you’ll be in an orange jumpsuit getting beaten with a pillowcase full of bibles. Also, pay attention when searching for a child’s prom.

This law will create lots of new jobs, as the person charged with reading all our communications (who will see more unsolicited erections than customer services at Skype) will regularly feed their screaming face into a meatgrinder.

The government insists, as it tries to scrap the Freedom of Information Act, that only people who have something to hide should worry. People who run for public office will be afforded privacy, while our private lives will become public property. Having our privacy exposed is particularly crushing for the British – a nation for whom the phrase: “How are you?” really means: “Please say one word, then leave me alone.” So why have they just accepted this? Well, for a lot of people it’s the only hope that anyone will ever read their tweets.

The PR push for this bill’s launch has shown how similar the legislative process has become to the lobbying one. In fact, it’s not even lobbying, really, as most things that get lobbied for at least have some notional utility. This is more like phishing, asking us to sign up to something that looks helpful, but is actually a data breach.

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MI5 ‘secretly collected phone data’ for decade

BBC News reports:

Woman on phoneMI5 has secretly been collecting vast amounts of data about UK phone calls to search for terrorist connections.

The programme has been running for 10 years under a law described as “vague” by the government’s terror watchdog.

It emerged as Home Secretary Theresa May unveiled a draft bill governing spying on communications by the authorities.

If it becomes law, the internet activity of everyone in Britain will be held for a year by service providers.

Police and intelligence officers will then be able to see the names of sites suspected criminals have visited, without a warrant.

Mrs May told MPs the proposed powers were needed to fight crime and terrorism but civil liberties campaigners warned it represented to a “breathtaking” attack on the internet security of everyone living in the UK.

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