The UKs Big, Gigantic Brother

By MICHAEL TENNANT | THE NEW AMERICAN | JUNE 18, 2012

“Unless you are a criminal, then you’ve nothing to worry about from this new law.”

How many times have humans heard that old saw? Only as many times as governments have taken away more of their liberties in the name of fighting crime.

The latest politician to utter those infamous words is British Home Secretary Theresa May. Defending her government’s plan to require communications providers to store details of every e-mail, telephone call, and text message in the United Kingdom, May called the proposal “sensible and limited” and denounced opponents as “conspiracy theorists … with ridiculous claims about how these measures infringe freedom.”

“I just don’t understand why some criticize these proposals,” she wrote in a June 14 op-ed in the Sun.

Who, after all, could object to a plan that, according to the Associated Press, “would force communications providers … to gather a wealth of information on their customers” and then make that data available to law enforcement on request, giving “authorities a remarkably rich picture of their citizens’ day-to-day lives”?

Under the bill, says the AP:

Providers would log where emails, tweets, Skype calls and other messages were sent from, who they were sent to, and how large they were. Details of file transfers, phone calls, text messages and instant conversations, such as those carried over BlackBerry Messenger, would also be recorded.

The bill also demands that providers collect IP addresses, details of customers’ electronic hardware, and subscriber information including names, addresses, and payment information.

Even physical communications would be monitored: Address details written on envelopes would be copied; parcel tracking information would be logged as well.

All the data would be kept for up to a year or longer if it was the subject of legal proceedings.

“Officials insist they’re not after content,” the AP writes. “They promise not to read the body of emails or eavesdrop on phone calls without a warrant.”

This assumes, of course, that one can trust these officials. Richard Littlejohn of the Daily Mail clearly does not. “Whenever you give any agent of the state extra powers,” Littlejohn observed, “they will always, always abuse it.”

Read Full Article →

British Under More Surveillance

UK TELEGRAPH | APRIL 1, 2012

Ministers are preparing a major expansion of the Government’s powers to monitor the email exchanges and website visits of every person in the UK, it was reported today.

Under legislation expected in next month’s Queen’s Speech, internet companies will be instructed to install hardware enabling GCHQ – the Government’s electronic “listening” agency – to examine “on demand” any phone call made, text message and email sent, and website accessed in “real time”, The Sunday Times reported.

A previous attempt to introduce a similar law was abandoned by the former Labour government in 2006 in the face of fierce opposition.

However ministers believe it is essential that the police and security services have access to such communications data in order to tackle terrorism and protect the public.

Although GCHQ would not be able to access the content of such communications 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.

The Home Office confirmed that ministers were intending to legislate “as soon as parliamentary time allows”.

Read Full Article →

US Police can Search Cell Phones without Warrant

by Jay Gormley
CBS
March 7, 2012

Think about all the personal information we keep in our cell phones: It’s something to consider after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit ruled it is now legal for police to search cell phones without a warrant.

Former Dallas FBI Agent Danny Defenbaugh said the ruling gives law enforcement a leg up. “I think not only will it help them, but it could be life saving,” said the former Special Agent, who was based in Dallas.

The decision stems from an Indiana case where police arrested a man for dealing drugs. An officer searched the suspect’s cell phone without warrant.

The judge in the appeal case, Judge Richard Posner, agreed that the officer had to search the phone immediately or risk losing valuable evidence. Judge Posner ruled it was a matter of urgency, arguing it was possible for an accomplice to wipe the phone clean using a computer or other remote device.

Defenbaugh says the ruling takes into account exigent or time-sensitive circumstances that could be life saving in more urgent cases, such as child abduction. ”If the child is alive and you’re only minutes behind, that could be critical to recovering that child alive,” added Defenbaugh.

Paul Coggins is the former U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas. Coggins says the court’s ruling pushes the envelope on privacy issues. Judge Posner ruled that the search was legal because the officer conducted a limited search and only looked for a phone number associated with the alleged drug deal.

However, Coggins wonders if it opens the door to more extensive searches down the road. “Does that mean officers now have the right to search through your phone, search through your search history, your photographs, your e-mails and the rest, because it could all be wiped clean,” Coggins asked.

Many critics are asking the same question. They call the ruling an invasion of privacy that far outweighs the needs of law enforcement.

Both Defenbaugh and Coggins agree that the case is likely to go to the U.S. Supreme court.

Big Brother gets Bigger in Canada

Breitbart.com
February 14, 2012

(Via AFP) Canada’s government Tuesday introduced a bill to give law enforcement authorities sweeping powers to probe online communications, but the move sparked criticism about threats to privacy.

“New technologies provide new ways of committing crimes, making them more difficult to investigate,” Justice Minister Rob Nicholsontold a press conference in unveiling the measure.

“This legislation will enable authorities to keep pace with rapidly changing technology.”

 Opposition parties and civil liberties groups, however, said new police powers contained in the bill could result in unreasonable searches and seizures.

Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart, whose office is independent from the government, said in a letter to Public Safety Minister Vic Toews last October she had “deep concerns” about the proposed changes, which she said could have “serious repercussions for privacy rights.

“I recognize that rapid developments in communication technologies are creating new challenges for law enforcement and national security authorities and that the Internet cannot be a lawless zone,” Stoddart said.

But “by expanding the legal tools of the state to conduct surveillance and access private information, and by reducing the depth of judicial scrutiny… (the bill would allow the) government to subject more individuals to surveillance and scrutiny.”

Further more it goes “far beyond simply maintaining investigative capacity or modernizing search powers. Rather, (it) added significant new capabilities for investigators to track, and search and seize digital information about individuals.”

The legislation would require telecommunications service providers to set up systems that allow police or Canada’sspy service to intercept communications as part of their investigations.

As well, they would be required to provide subscriber information to authorities and other data that would allow police to track suspects using a cell phone or a computer.

Toews in parliament insisted the newest draft of the bill balances law enforcement needs and privacy rights, but Stoddart’s office told AFPher concerns remain.

 

Ron Paul: Obamacare is more Fascism than Socialism

by Page Winfield
Washington Post
November 18, 2011

It’s doubtful whether anyone opposes President Obama’s health care law more than Ron Paul, but the Texas congressman said Wednesday that the sweeping legislation is not socialized medicine — contrary to claims made by his fellow presidential contenders Michele Bachmann and Herman Cain.

Instead, Mr. Paul called the Affordable Care Act “corporate medicine leading toward fascism,” insisting that his definition was much worse.

“It’s not socialized medicine, but it’s characteristic and creates the same things,” he said in comments before the Congressional Health Care Caucus, which invited him to speak on Capitol Hill.

“You always have shortages on socialized medicine, but you always have shortages when you have government intervention — like we do now.

“You keep the businessman involved, but the businessman makes a lot of profit and he’s in bed [with] and gets protection from the government,” said Mr. Paul, one of a handful of doctors who serve in Congress. “That’s not a very good alternative. They’re both very bad and some of the bad aspects would overlap.”

Mr. Obama had originally hoped for a universal health care system where a public option would compete with private plans on insurance exchanges, but was forced to compromise when his plan appeared politically untenable.

While the final law dramatically expands Medicaid, it still depends on Americans obtaining private insurance plans through state-based exchanges.

Nonetheless, some candidates vociferously opposed to the overhaul — namely, Mrs. Bachmann and Mr. Cain — still say it’s socialized medicine.

“In some socialized medicine countries, you can’t get a CAT scan in nine months, let alone an operation,” Mr. Cain said, speaking before the caucus two weeks ago. “We have the best health care system in the world. And … if we allow this government sponsored socialized medicine approach to prevail, we will no longer have the best health care system in the world.”