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Big Brother

New Brit law allows big brother to spy on all online communication

Friday, April 06, 2012 by: J. D. Heyes
Tags: Big Brother, online communication, surveillance

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(NaturalNews) Remember, remember the fifth of November... So goes the opening line of a poem attributed to Englishman Guy Fawkes, a 17th century revolutionary who attempted to blow up the Parliament building on Nov. 5, 1605. The incident became known as the Gunpowder Plot, and Fawkes was caught, tortured and executed for the crime of treason. The premise of his actions was pure, if extreme: Fawkes believed he was working to throw off tyranny in an England that was increasingly being ruled by an iron handed monarch.

Fast-forward to 21st century Great Britain, and you can see elements of that tyranny reemerging.

Lawmakers there are working to give the government new and broad powers to monitor all Internet-related traffic - email exchanges, visits to Web sites, etc. - of everyone in the United Kingdom.

And, as is customary, the measures are being sold to the public as necessary in order to enhance public safety and guard against terrorism and other militancy.

Nothing is sacred or private

A similar effort was discussed among Labour Party leaders in 2006 but was ultimately abandoned in the face of staunch opposition. But there appear now to be no lingering concerns for the privacy rights of ordinary British citizens.

Under legislation that is expected to be announced next month, Internet firms will be required to install hardware that will enable GCHQ - the Government's electronic "listening" agency - to examine any phone call, text message, email sent and Web site accessed in "real time," at any time the government wants to look.

While GCHQ wouldn't be able to access that data without a warrant, "the legislation would enable it to trace people individuals or groups are in contact with, and how often and for how long they are in communication," said London's Daily Telegraph.

Top British officials confirmed to the paper that ministers of parliament (MPs) were planning the legislation "as soon as parliamentary time allows."

"It is vital that police and security services are able to obtain communications data in certain circumstances to investigate serious crime and terrorism and to protect the public. We need to take action to maintain the continued availability of communications data as technology changes," a Home Office spokesman told the paper.

"Communications data includes time, duration and dialing numbers of a phone call, or an email address. It does not include the content of any phone call or email and it is not the intention of Government to make changes to the existing legal basis for the interception of communications."

So much for privacy

Like Fawkes before them, not all Brits are happy about the blatant privacy intrusion. And some are comparing such power to that wielded by truly repressive governments.

"This is an unprecedented step that will see Britain adopt the same kind of surveillance seen in China and Iran," said Nick Pickles, director of the Big Brother Watch campaign group.

"This is an absolute attack on privacy online and it is far from clear this will actually improve public safety, while adding significant costs to internet businesses," he added. "If this was such a serious security issue why has the Home Office not ensured these powers were in place before the Olympics?"

Shami Chakrabarti, director of the civil rights group Liberty, noted that at one point, both sides of the political spectrum in Britain - the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats - opposed such intrusive legislation. But not anymore.

"There is an element of whoever you vote for the empire strikes back," Chakrabarti told Sky News.

"This is more ambitious than anything that has been done before. It is a pretty drastic step in a democracy," she said. "It was resisted under the last government. The coalition bound itself together in the language of civil liberties. Do they still mean it?"

Apparently not. But it just could be the British are simply preparing to do what their American counterparts already do.

Sources for this article include:




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