Clegg and Cooper Fail on Mass Surveillance

Tuesday, 4 March, 2014 - 19:00

The shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper, and Nick Clegg the Deputy Prime Minister have made speeches on Internet security, privacy and the Snowden leaks. Both have acknowledged public concern and called for further debate.

Clegg and Cooper called for reform of the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC), and the chair to be drawn from an opposition party to avoid the impression of the committee being "too cosy" with the government of the day.

Loz Kaye : LibDems and Labour – Nothing to Offer on Mass Surveillance

There is a set pattern for speeches from mainstream politicians about the Internet. Start off with a few “isn't it amazing what the kids can do nowadays” generalities to show you are vaguely with it. Then do a nod in the direction of the economic benefits technology can bring, to keep business happy. That leaves you clear to get on to the meat of what you really want to talk about – how the Nettywebz are a Pandora's box of terror, abuse, threats to citizen's rights, and moral dissolution.

So it has proved with the much trailed speeches by the Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper and the LibDem Leader Nick Clegg respectively. In particular, Cooper's speech is so packed with web cliches that it is clear that the Labour top remains fundamentally anti-Internet in its outlook. There are too many lazy conflations to mention, Facebook and NHS data are lumped together for example. She refers to the “digital challenges of the last 12 months” regarding mass surveillance. I have no idea what this means specifically, and I suspect whoever wrote it doesn't either.

To cut through the padding, the heart of what they set out to address, was surveillance in the light of the Snowden revelations. I want to focus on the substance – such as it is – of what they said and proposed, rather than how it was sold to the media.

The fact that they are discussing this at all shows that it is beginning to filter through to politicians that they can't ignore the gravity of the serious breaches of trust that have taken place. That's in no small way thanks to all the work of grassroots digital rights and privacy activists over the months. And of course Edward Snowden himself, whatever Cooper might claim to the contrary. To be fair, this is some kind of progress.

Death of snoopers’ charter is cautiously welcomed

OPPONENTS OF THE INTRUSIVE UK snoopers' charter Communications Bill haven't been celebrating since Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said he won't support it.

While Clegg and his Lib Dem party are convinced that this is the end of the bill, UK Pirate Party leader Loz Kaye cautiously welcomed the news.

"This proposal should never have come forward in the first place, it would turn us all from citizens into suspects. I hope this is indeed the good news we are promised. Let's wait for the final evidence, you'll forgive me for being sceptical about LibDem pledges," he said.

Friday, 26 April, 2013 (All day)

Uncivil Liberties: The Coalition's Surveillance Chaos

Loz Kaye's picture

It has been a  week of chaos for Britain's government on civil liberties. Theresa May signaling the intention to bring in legislation to allow law enforcement agencies to check email, web, social media and gaming forum traffic unleashed a wave of protest. It also unleashed contradiction in the government parties. The Conservatives were quick to exploit the "being tough on crime" angle in the Sun. LibDem president Tim Farron was fielded to promise to shoot down the proposals Nick Clegg was set up to defend just a few short days before.

We have had leaks, briefings, interviews, spin and letters. Lots of letters. The whole debacle has been capped with Home Office and the Prime Minister's websites being DDoSed by Anonymous. 

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