Coffee House

Snooper’s Charter battle returns, and it’s going to be even messier than before

26 May 2013

12:10 PM

26 May 2013

12:10 PM

David Cameron warned in his Downing Street statement on the Woolwich killing against forming ‘knee-jerk responses’ to the atrocity. But it was inevitable that there would be many knees flying in the air over a piece of legislation that some say could either have prevented the killing, or made it easier to piece together the evidence. The Communications Data Bill – better known as the Snooper’s Charter – is back in the spotlight after everyone had assumed that Nick Clegg had kicked it into the next Parliament at least.

Alan Johnson called it a resigning issue on the Marr Show, Lord Carlile accused his own party of blocking the legislation for political reasons, and Sadiq Khan said that a new bill with more proportionate powers was something Labour would support. Simon Hughes claimed he hadn’t seen any evidence to suggest this piece of legislation would have made any difference in this instance (although those in government might argue that it’s not surprising the deputy leader of the Lib Dems hasn’t seen such evidence).

Carlile was right to a certain extent that the veto was ‘purely political because of demands from inside the Liberal Democrats’: the party leadership knew that to proceed with the legislation as it stood would have provoked fury from a party already exceptionally tetchy following the passage of the Justice and Security Bill. But alongside the Lib Dem opponents of the Bill were around 40 Conservatives who signed a letter in December saying they would ‘find it difficult to support the proposals’. The campaign to block that bill, wound down with a flourish after Nick Clegg vetoed it, is now cranking back into life. And it looks like it’s going to be even messier than before.

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Show comments
  • Tom M

    I laugh at this.
    I imagine the MI5 lot huddled in a van parked in a street somewhere with tape recorders running and computers whirring. The two blokes with their headphones on looking excitedly at each other “we’re getting some good stuff here”. As they tune in to the local WVRS meeting.
    “Will you turn that youtube clip of that Choudray bloke off, I can’t hear what they are saying in the hall”. Says one of the attentive MI5 intelligence officers.

    Whilst along the road in full hearing of any passer by on the opposite side of the street the Imam of the local mosque is preaching death and destruction to the west.

    The nearby university is segregating the sexes (a la Islam) who are settling down to a firebrand lecture on the shortcomings of Christianity, the benefits of sharia law and what should be the fate of apostates and adulterers.

    A group of adults and young girls pass the MI5 officers in the van on their way to a party thrown by one of the women the real reason of which is to mutilate their daughters in accordance with their faith.
    Across the road from the pre-occupied MI5 officers a group of Asian looking men are chatting up some very young white girls.
    Clearly these MI5 officers are up against it. How can they concentrate on what they are doing with all that going on around them?

  • Shoe On Head

    larry lessig harvard law professor:

    “In this world, [Internet privacy] is an oxymoron,” said Lessig. “But, if we could build an identity layer into the Internet, we could actually recreate the idea of Internet privacy, so there would be both more privacy and more security.”

    However, he said that’s unlikely to happen because Internet privacy advocates and security experts are generally unwilling to engage with one another on the issue to get the idea off the drawing board.

    “The problem is the extremists in this debate, both the privacy extremists and the government security people, aren’t even willing to even engage to have the conversation necessary to give us both,” he said.

    • Colonel Mustard

      The problem with the idealism is the current elastic and subjective definitions of “extremist” from the idiots ruling over us. We are living in age when the collective left (most of parliament it seems) are working hard to label anyone right of centre as a potential extremist whilst ignoring the b****y great beam in their own eye.

  • Denis_Cooper

    “The Communications Data Bill – better known as the Snooper’s Charter”

    Only to those who choose to call it that rather than have a coldly rational discussion on its merits and demerits.

    • Colonel Mustard

      It might be a good start if May advanced the argument with cold rationality on its merits and demerits rather than her dog whistle approach. In fact if our politicians relied on cold rationality – and honesty – rather than spin and manipulation such terms might not even arise because public trust just might improve.

  • Smithersjones2013

    I hear Theresa May is trying to do a very good impersonation of Jacqui Smith. When in a hole stop digging. The technology is already available to subvert this totalitarian action. It will achieve nothing except an inordinate amount of wasted resource. This will cost Tories seats and ensure youngers voters will avoid them like the plague and it will be so easy to do. All people need to know is that the Tories want to spy on them!

    Of course being a Surrey Tory she probably doesn’t care because they are the safest, richest and most out of touch of them all. It won’t be their seats that go but all those in the counties around them. Why is it these Tories are so determined to destroy their party?

    Rotten legislation. Rotten Government.

  • Ninth Legion

    Yes, we must have a Snooper’s Charter because, at the end of the day it will make our country just a little bit more like Muslim countries where governments methodically interfere with every aspect of their citizen’s lives. And look just how free Saudi Arabia and Iran are! If Britain adopts a Snooper’s Charter the terrorist has won – they are ensuring that our privacy is becoming more like theirs in their own countries – non-existent! This terrorist attack was a heaven-sent opportunity to restrict our freedoms by both right and left governments.

  • Curnonsky

    As if the police didn’t already have every bit of evidence that the Woolwich killers were a danger to society without a Snoopers Charter. This is simply making excuses for their multiple failures, failures born not of lack of information but lack of ability to put two and two together, lack of basic police competence. All the tools in the world are of no avail without the will or the skill to use them.

    What is more, can anyone doubt that the primary target of the Snoopers Charter will be those who post, write or think unapproved thoughts about the whys and wherefores of these attacks? I would lay money that at the end of the day more peaceable ordinary citizens will be charged for their Twitter and Facebook postings about Lee Rigby’s murder than terrorist thugs charged with the actual crime.

    This evil bill is the ruling clique’s knee-jerk response to the continued unraveling of its favoured myth: multi-culturalism is preferable to British culture.

  • itdoesntaddup

    It is utterly beyond belief that given the extensive knowledge that the security that the services appear to have had about the perpetrators of this murder that they think that snooping on everybody else would help them. Instead, they need to be prepared to follow up on the identified risks, rather than adding a fog of petabytes of snooping that they’ll lack the resources to mine.

    We need a very different approach. Prevent undesirables from coming here. Deal with identified risks rather more pro-actively. Warn them they are on the radar and offer them a chance to go straight: if they don’t take it, expel them or tag them. Stop the police from pussy-footing in PC manner. They wouldn’t behave the way they do over extremists in dealing with a gang of shotgun raiders. We really shouldn’t be hearing about cases of bombs in cars under the noses of the police that they didn’t even bother to check for.

    We didn’t hesitate to watch potential Soviet agents, nor to identify segments of the Irish population as IRA or UDA sympathisers. So too with Islamic extremists. Only by making life uncomfortable and difficult for them will the effects of their efforts be minimised.

    • FrenchNewsonlin

      “making life uncomfortable and difficult” must be the understatement of the month!

  • anneallan

    The authorities already had the information. The will to act is what is lacking.
    Yet again, the freedom and privacy of the law abiding majority is put at risk because we have spineless rulers.

  • Daniel Maris

    We all know that this and the plan to stop Islamic hate speech will actually be used against democrats exercising their free speech rights (such as they are in this country). We should be very careful about going down this road.

    After all the perpetrators were known to the security services. It’s not that difficult to ID the extremists and the 5% you can;t well they aren’t going to be sutpid enough to put uncoded messages in e mail.

    • Mark Cooper

      Indeed. Plod has already been trawling twitter to find ‘wayycists’ to arrest. Much easier than nicking extremists.

  • Colonel Mustard

    “Theresa May has said it is “essential” that intelligence agencies have greater access to communications data following the murder of off-duty soldier Lee Rigby in Woolwich. The Home Secretary said law enforcement agencies must be given the “tools they need” to track down terrorists before they can launch attacks.
    She also warned that “thousands” of people in Britain are potentially at risk of being radicalised by extremists.”

    It is about as cynical as cynical gets to throw out this line again after the Woolwich murder. May has previous for resorting to the dog-whistle to advance the intrusive aspirations of the secret policemen pulling her strings but even so this takes the biscuit. I wonder how many people can see through this and how many are taken in by it.

    • Andrew Fernie

      I find most politicians completely odious, but May is one of the few who actually provokes a feeling of nausea. She, John Reid, and Blunkett are simply successive cheeks of the same a**e

      • Barakzai

        Surely you don’t mean to exclude Jacqui Smith from this august list?

        • Andrew Fernie

          I apologise unreservedly for leaving her out (and Charlie the Safety Elephant too)

    • dalai guevara

      It is quite unbelievable indeed.
      And may I add she appears to be calling for the support of the opposition for her ill-conceived views, which would be further proof that we are firmly on route to becoming the Italy of Northern Europe on a policy-by-policy basis.

    • dalai guevara

      How cynical indeed.
      May I add that the good lady now appears to be urging the opposition to support her ill-conceived plans, which must be further proof that we are firmly on route to becoming the Italy of Northern Europe, on a policy-by-policy basis

    • huktra

      I for one applaud Theresa May for continuing to try to get this important legislation on statute.
      The two Michaels were almost certainly in email communication with fellow radicals after they came to attention of the security services.
      Had their hands not been tied would the hapless soldier still be alive?
      The apologists for the LibDems on this blog are doing our country, my country a disservice.

      • Guest

        You say ‘our country’, but if you are not trusted (by default) and always being monitored as a possible suspect, how long will you continue to feel it’s yours

    • dalai guevara

      How cynical indeed.
      May I add that the good lady now appears to be
      urging the opposition to support her ill-conceived plans, which must be
      further proof that we are firmly on route to becoming the Italy of
      Northern Europe, on a policy-by-policy basis

      • dalai guevara

        Are we now all struck with ‘Noa disease’?

        • the viceroy’s gin

          …well, you clearly have some type of serious affliction, with multiple symptoms, which are getting worse.

          • dalai guevara

            you will be telling me it’s all Leveson’s fault next.

          • dalai guevara

            no hallucinations, clearly not.

  • JustAnOtherRandomGit

    How many minutes after last week’s event did our glorious civil service wait before agitating for extended powers that they already wanted for other purposes? Quite an abuse of a personal tragedy. Also none other than JS Mill warned that social non-cohesion would lead to authoritarianism, and he doesn’t look wrong from today’s perspective.

  • http://blogs.spectator.co.uk/coffeehouse/ Justathought

    The snoopers charter is what it says on the can. It effectively turns everyone into a terrorist suspect. It is a fishing expedition on a scale that would make Putin blush. Why not take everyone’s DNA also on the off-chance that they may be a criminal at some point in their lives?

    There is enough mistrust of politicians and it will only be a short time before they and the police find new novel uses for the private information harvested.

    • James

      The truth is that security services have access to snoop and use it already, but the charter legalises it so that lawyers can’t use human rights abuses further down the line. However, the problem we have is not going to be solved by legalising the charter and government should start deporting known criminals and enforce the law instead of treating certain communities with different rules.

      • http://blogs.spectator.co.uk/coffeehouse/ Justathought

        And also stop importing criminals!

        • James

          I hear that our economy would collapse if we didn’t import murderers and criminals with intent to destroy England!

          • anneallan

            Well, the economy of various dubious lawyers would certainly collapse. Bye bye, Dordogne cottage.

    • Colonel Mustard

      Not just a terrorist suspect, but a parking fine suspect, council tax suspect or indeed anything on the tri-partite government’s increasingly long list of what constitutes “intelligence” interest. A growing burden on a citizen to conform to the demands of the state in every minute detail of his or her life but little evidence of reciprocality from those who rule over us.

      • http://blogs.spectator.co.uk/coffeehouse/ Justathought

        Time after time we learn that intelligence services had the information on the terrorists but failed to act upon it.

        • telemachus

          Just so
          Now is not the time for bleeding heart liberals and their fellow travellers to be whining about 1984
          The tragedy of Woolwich was not just that we lost a fine soldier on home soil
          But that innocent women and children have been forced to live stories of barbarism with questions asked by wide eyed infants of flabbergasted mothers
          This coming hard on the heels of the monsters in Oxford after stories of the monsters of Rochdale are just fading
          The bleating bleeding hearts will decry the chant but it is a fact that if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear
          Mrs May do your stuff. Yvette will help

        • Guest

          Theresa May is cunning and astute and will capitalise on this somber mood with this legislation that would certainly impinge on free man’s rights, not as transient as a mood but as permanent as an age

    • Tim Reed

      “Why not take everyone’s DNA”

      Don’t give the current lot ideas. I’m sure it was part of overlord Blair’s design for our future…

      “There had to be intervention ‘pre-birth even’, he said.”

      http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/5301824.stm

      • Jimmy R

        Apparently in Scotland they are already intent on automatically giving every child a dedicated, named social worker from the moment it is born. In other words all parents are deemed to be unfit to bring up their child without the State constantly looking over their shoulders.

  • Alex

    Even if you accept that the Bill would have helped in this case (which personally I don’t) what about the cost?

    Given that we have already blown over £400 million pounds on this scheme, this would be several Billion £ before going live, plus running costs of maybe several Billion per annum. Plus the fines to be paid when a civil servant leaves a laptop full of collected data on the tube.

    Are there not better ways to spend the money? More armed police, for example?

    • James

      Immigration officers would be a good investment.

      • anneallan

        Correction – immigration officers that are on the side of this country.

        • James

          I suggest you do something practical with your life – figure out how to function your brain.

          Tip: Immigration control has been shut down due to catastrophic failure!

          • dalai guevara

            you want ID cards – just say it, it will be cathartic.

            • James

              I want to stop my country turning into a third-world mess and that means deport undesired immigrants and shut the door.

              • dalai guevara

                Then perhaps what you ought to do -whilst we ask others to stop playing a sick version of ‘Grand Theft Auto’- is you stop playing ‘Imperial Drone Attack’. Agreed? All this is not that difficult really, if you wanted this to work.

                • James

                  I get the impression you have few brain chemicals. I’m not entirely sure how you can relate drone attacks on Taliban in Pakistan to an evil satanic religion that preaches murder and jihad all over the world with a quest to make the planet islamic and kills people in Britain. The nearest conclusion is that Britain fights against the Taliban, rightly so.

                • dalai guevara

                  Then perhaps just stay rational and do the maths – what do you know about how many innocent people have died due to ‘knee-jerk’ policies? We know how many torture victims were paid out by the MOD (!) this year alone.

                  This is no video game, James – and we need to understand that we reap what we sow. People will be irrational, we must not join them. ‘Fighting’ will lead to bloodshed, we cannot complain about the outcome.

                • James

                  Russia invaded Afghanistan because of islamic extremism that has murdered millions throughout history and has grown geopolitically. It was Afghan that asked the UN for help to stop the Taliban from taking over and this group of satanic monsters are a major threat to the world. The reality is that Iran must be dealt with and no extremists are going to stop us from preventing them from nuclear jihad.

                • dalai guevara

                  Afghanistan is by far the largest purveyor of well-known narcotic substance. Has it escaped you that the world appears to have taken interest? The rest is verbal Chris Ofili style elephant excrement, artfully glossing over the entire thing. You see, aspects of what you say might be true, but do they affect my life? I am not prepared to fight someone else’s war.

                • James

                  Heroin is a poison used to destroy lives and therefore yes we should take an interest in stopping evil criminals from the source. I’m sure you are prepared to live comfortable thanks to the brave men and women who are prepared to fight.

                • dalai guevara

                  Young man, I’ve done my bit for God and country (no scars to show as the Colonel might add), but nonetheless I am well aware of all the posturing on the dance floor. This Taliban fight ought to be our fight as much as the Syrian conundrum, were it not for the unique product they offer.

                • echo34

                  And has the supply stopped by our interference there? Not one bit. This not the reason we went to Afghanistan.

    • http://blogs.spectator.co.uk/coffeehouse/ Justathought

      Put a halt to the opening of new Madrasa in the UK and re-integrate the others into secular schools. Stop funding extremist organisations with taxpayers money though “community schemes” and gather intelligence from the hate preachers in our inner cities and universities.

      • FrenchNewsonlin

        Make them all preach in English and license the lot.

  • telemachus

    The reasons remain as before
    You can bet your life that we would have a better profile of the Woolwich butchers networks if the Bill had been in place
    Again shame on Clegg

    • Emulous

      Butchers indeed.
      Tell me do they deserve NHS treatment?

    • fantasy_island

      Freedom has a price teletubby.

    • Smithersjones2013

      No instead lets bet yours shall we? Eric Pickles (and he should know given he was at the COBRA meetings) has already said the Snoopers Charter would not have stopped this.

  • James

    How about stop mass immigration coming from murderous regimes and kick out all the scum in our country?

    Note to cameron: I don’t mind being background checked if I travel to America or Russia and it’s the least i’d expect if I planned to move there…

    • Emulous

      Tell me where were what are described below as the Woolwich Butchers born?

      • James

        Born out of immigration and also known to have been criminals in Kenya.

        • dalai guevara

          ‘born out of immigration’
          Portillo and Milliband et al must be shaken by your analysis, with laughter.

        • dalai guevara

          ‘born out of immigration’
          the Angles and Saxons will be shaken by your analysis, with laughter.

        • dalai guevara

          ‘born out of immigration’
          the Angles and Saxons will be shaken by your analysis, with laughter.

          • dalai guevara

            …now watch the fascists moderate this

        • huktra

          You mean arrested, torturedand acquitted.

          • James

            Go back to your own country and talk nonsense.

          • dalai guevara

            careful, your post might disappear, just like that…

            ‘born out of immigration’
            the Angles and Saxons will be shaken by that analysis, with laughter.

      • Andy

        How about buy a supply of Italian Hemp Rope.

        • anneallan

          What’s wrong with British Hemp Rope? Or is that another manufacturing job that’s been out sourced?

          • Andy

            It is often manufactured in Britain, but the Hemp is grown in Italy, hence the name.

      • Andrew Fernie

        One was born and raised in Lambeth. The other is the son of a worker at the Nigerian High Commission. Both went to the University of Greenwich. Apparently it’s an ‘eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth’ – they murder a guy with a machete, we ruthlessly gave them a University education. I can see why they’re so mad at the UK…

  • the viceroy’s gin

    It’s amazing what the Cameroons think is important.

    No wonder this guy’s head is destined for a spike.

    Only 23 more months now. The time draws nigh.

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