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Council Spies Bait and Switch

BBC NEWS | UK | Council surveillance review urged

Councils in England have been urged to review the way they use surveillance powers to investigate suspected crime.

Under laws brought in to help fight terrorism, councils can access phone and e-mail records and use surveillance to detect or stop a criminal offence...Figures released by councils under the Freedom of Information Act show that thousands of people have had their telephone and e-mail records accessed.

But Local Government Association chairman Sir Simon Milton has written to councils warning overzealous use of the powers could alienate the public.

They should not be used for "trivial offences" such as dog fouling, he adds.

Sir Simon urges councils to use the powers only for complaints about more serious matters such as fly tipping, rogue traders and housing benefit fraud.

The powers were brought in for Terrorism - flytipping isn't terrorism, housing benefit fraud doesn't kill people just because you want the councils to stop using them against dogfouling doesn't mean that it then becomes "necessary and proportionate" to use them against other petty criminals. It is the bloody bait and switch at work, if we stop beating you with an iron bar that makes it alright to thrash you with a stick.


In actual fact the powers that are being discussed are conferred under R.I.P.A (Regulation of Investigative Powers Act). This act was not bought into being to tackle terrorism, but it doesn't change your general argument Englishman, it does however point to something even more sinister. RIPA was enacted to codify into UK law the principles of the European Convention of Human Rights (you remember voting for that...don't you?). Having agreed the principles, it was down to each country to frame domestic law to reflect the principles. In the UK we did this under the aegis of RIPA. The powers for surveillance and snooping were a reflection of Article 8 which states:
"Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence."

Now that sounds good doesn't it? As a principle it sounds reasonably unambiguous and straight forward. That is until you get to the next paragraph which states:
"There shall be no interference by a PUBLIC AUTHORITY with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, PUBLIC SAFETY or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, FOR THE PROTECTION OF HEALTH OR MORALS, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others." (Emphasis mine)

So in this single paragraph you begin to understand the inexorable rise of Health And Safety, Health Panics and Social Scares. Such "ishoos" are a vehicle for any PUBLIC AUTHORITY i.e state functionary, to trample over your private and family life. In effect the state now has a carte blanche to intrude on privacy and family on the flimsiest of excuses and it is all nicely encoded in ECHR. The real scandal of the use of RIPA powers for trivial matters by Local Authorities, is not that they are being misused, but that they are being used as intended by the EU Bureaucrats and UK politicians. In a single paragraph thrown together by unelected officials in a foreign land, we lost all of our freedoms overnight. But you all knew that, right?

Interesting spot from fed_up, I didn't realise that was their guidance.

Let me propose something radical - anti-terrorism powers are only allowed to be used to fight terrorism. Any takers?


Now define 'terrorism'... ;)

TBH, RIPA and current powers are so wide ranging that it is hard to see what additional powers (beyond using wire-tap intercepts as evidence) are needed.
The more pressing point is that with ECHR framed as it is, then liberty is completely removed from the table, irregardless of the terrorist threat. As an example:
Imagine that "they" decide that it is immoral for any person to smoke in their own homes where children are present. ECHR provides ample power for "them" to enter your home to "correct" you if you are suspected of such nefarious activity. It won't be a copper bursting in either, it will be something much worse, some small dicked state functionary full of self-righteous importance.

Until the over-arching framework of ECHR is removed from it's malevolent influence on society, it is hard to think of a single area of private life that can't be medicalised or moralised, thereby bringing that private activity into the sphere of state intrusion.

Reminiscence of Berlin circa 1935.

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