Britain’s new ‘Communications Data Bill’ – do we prefer a Snooper’s charter or a Paris type massacre?

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As the dreadful news started to hit the airways late yesterday evening of a developing terrorist attack in Paris, we had little idea of the scale of the massacre unfolding, did we? It did though immediately bring home to people, especially those in the know about these things, evidence on the ongoing failure of the French security forces to keep their peoples safe. We wake up this morning to the shocking outcome that in the three hours beforemidnight as many as a hundred and thirty are dead with three hundred and fifty if not more others wounded (a hundred critical) in the carnage of mass shootings and bombings/grenades by the three groups of jihadists (in a bar, restaurants, football stadium, and concert hall) – the terror and trauma suffered by the survivors can be only imagined, can’t it? [It is quite possible that some of our own citizens have been caught-up in this outrage (a British man now confirmed  as one of the killed)].

It is now believed that the seven suicide terrorists perpetrating this horrific crime have all been killed (are some already on someone’s security database?), and hostages taken by them released by the French forces – but possibly there are ‘presently unknown’ others who are direct accomplices or have been involved in the preparations (and they will still be out there, wont they?). Border controls have been now tightened in France – a bit too late? The French are trying to close the stable door when the horse has already bolted, hasn’t it? The security arrangements are not working. There previously had been a similar, but much less slaughtering (17 killed & 22 injured), Al-Qaeda attack (by three terrorists) suffered by them at the start of the year (and that City was supposed to be on high alert – but now the jihadists have committed another atrocity, it seems to have become a dangerous place, doesn’t it?), so how comes the responsible intelligence agencies didn’t see this one coming, eh? Some of the media is suggesting that this bloodbath is simply an ISIS revenge response to the symbolic death of militant hostage murderer, Britisher Jihadi John, who was tracked for many weeks by the British and targeted in an American drone attack in Syria a day earlier, but that seems highly unlikely doesn’t it? Such a sophisticated murderous operation as undertaken by ISIS in Paris requires a lot of detailed planning and assembly of weaponry, which all takes time, doesn’t it? The prime motivation may well though have been about Syria.

It is true however that MI5 is on high alert in preparation for potential revenge attacks by ISIS in this Country, and additional surveillances and monitoring will have been put in place – but any attempt by extremists would not be expected to involve anything like the magnitude of what has happened in Paris. A significant and range of security measures were already in place in the UK to detect and deal with such an attack in this country. Time and again our security publically report that they have detected and foiled planned terrorist plots on Britain – forty-four in the ten years since the 7/7 attacks on London (with hundreds charged (sheds loads others only arrested), and many of them brought to justice despite the difficulty of doing so in our courts) and hence the need for the proposed new counter-terrorism bill.

Once again our Government is trying to put in place a new security law capable of dealing with the modern era of the internet and smart phones – the days of intercepting a few letters in the Royal Mail and ordering a handful of PO mainline authorised phone line taps, is long since gone, hasn’t it? In the twenty-first century our society faces the increasing and murderous threat of violent international terrorism, as well as the equal exploitation of protective security gaps by local and overseas criminal gangs – all deploying the latest sophisticated present-day facilities of modern communication.

But the do-gooders in our society and the likes of Liberty want to put a brake on all that don’t they? Yes, they say it is about so called ‘human rights’ and ‘freedom of the individual’ – what about surely the top human right of all ‘the right to life’, or even the ‘freedom to not live in constant fear’, eh? Such a legislative act due last year was scuppered a couple of years ago, mainly by the Liberal Democrats– but they have been decimated, so we all know what the public think of such opinions and actions, don’t we?

The new draft Communications Data Bill (nicknamed by those opposing as the Snooper’s Charter), is to provide the security services and police with an explicit licence of new comprehensive investigatory powers that would require internet providers and mobile phone operators, to continue to maintain records (as now) of each user’s telephone voice contact data and e-mail correspondence, but in addition on internet browsing activity (including social media), plus mobile phone messaging services and internet gaming,. They will need to keep the data for a year, and it is all not going to be cheap – a few billion pounds at least and no doubt consumer bills will go up because everyone’s typical internet usage keeps escalating so there will be ongoing expense (but is that all a reasonable price for us to pay for the County’s and its people’s protection?). Our current activities on bulk surveillance are complex and hidden to say the least, which isn’t acceptable, is it?

Some of the big contentious  political issues have been dropped in a clear backdown to try to get the Bill through the Commons, so only the hard evidence contact information of the internet web communication is required (who, what, where, when) and not any of the content (which would still require a specific warrant).

The proposed oversight authority has not yet been announced – some want it to remain with our elected politicians while others insist it should be in the hands of unelected unaccountable judges. How much should we rely on the judiciary who regularly fail to protect our society, allowing some criminals to remain at large, a host of foreign illegal immigrant murderers, rapists, child molesters, criminals, hate preachers, and the like to avoid deportation – so their human rights are not breached in any way, eh? [Our Justice System allows many murderers to get released from prison and to go on to commit further murders, often in similar circumstances].

Surely the only people who can be worried about mass surveillance are those up to no good or likely to get up to no good- what normal member of our population gives a fig about GCSQ or police knowing what web sites we go on or who we call, but terrorists and criminals certainly do, don’t they?

 

[Surely the events in Paris yesterday should have strengthened our MPs resolve to keep our security services fully informed and given the powers they have asked for to keep us all safe? Or do they prefer another 7/7 suicide bombing by 4 Islamic extremists, type of atrocity (52 killed and over 700 injured)  over a bit of our overrated privacy loss?]

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