Sunday, October 07, 2007

RIPA civil liberties

If you are active trade unionist employed by local/central government and are involved in organising a strike don't be surprised if the state or your employer nose through your phone records.

Because from last Monday, new regulations will allow 800 public bodies to access your landline and mobile phone records. And it is broad and ambiguous that there's the potential for any amount of misuse and abuse to occur.

Minister for Security and Counter-terrorism Tony McNulty argues: "local councils would only have access to data on "a legitimate and proportional basis".

Where are the safeguards to stop a local council sniffing around a trade unionist's phone records as they could argue they have a "legitimate basis" for doing so?

Privacy and civil liberties are becoming a sham in this country 'cos this government is hell bent on exposing your activities to any public servant. The cops and the intelligent services have easy access to your life and now the government have extended to include public servants.

Our lives are already under surveillance and can be thoroughly dissected by tracking whether innocuously by Oyster cards, CCTV, ID databases and so on. Big Brother is indeed increasing his power and control over people. I mean, will it be possible to go to the toilet without the state being privy?

With the strengthening of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA), Henry Porter in today's Observer likens it to the Gold Shield Project in China.

But why this over-bearing and control-freakery? Terrorism? Serious crime? Will crackdowns on civil liberties and basic freedoms make us a less of a target for terrorists? Well, what have Japan, New Zealand, Costa Rica and Sweden all have in common? They don't have any troops in Iraq....
And now with the strengthening of the anti-terrorism legislation more potential miscarriages of justice and anyone perceived behaving in a "dodgy way" could be held for 56 days without the usual rights and safeguards.

And tomorrow there's the anti-war demonstration that has not been given permission so there's a likelihood the protesters could be arrested. The state is using a Sessional Order of the House of Commons of the Metropolitan Police Act of 1839 passed to stop the Chartists and still being used in the 21st century to stop demonstrations. Yes, picture the scene of Walter Wolfgang and Tony Benn being dragged off by the cops in this brave new authoritarian world.

They have access to pretty much everything we do and there will be a time when civil liberties will be a thing of the past.