Speaking at a Commons Select Committee hearing this week, ISPs warned that the costs of implementing the system outlined in the government's Snooper's Charter Bill would be huge, far larger than the £175m the government has earmarked for them.
ISPs would face significant additional costs, and would pass those on to its customers, the MPs were told. Chairman of the Internet Service Providers Association (ISPA), James Blessing, said that given an
infinite budget he could create the system that the government imagines in its legislation. But, he noted, the bill appears to be limiting the amount of funds available to a figure we don't recognize as suitable for the industry.
Making the point more bluntly, CEO of ISP Gigaclear, Matthew Hare, noted:
One way or the other, the citizens of this country will end up paying to be spied on.
A police constable who served in High Wycombe has been sacked after posting supposedly offensive and pornographic images on his personal Twitter account.
Pc James Ferguson, who worked with Thames Valley Police was dismissed from duty for gross
misconduct for breaching the Police Standards of Professional Behaviour for Orders and Instructions and Discreditable Conduct, following a hearing.
The victim of the apparent miscarriage of justice was dismissed without notice by chief constable
Francis Habgood at the misconduct hearing. Holier than thou Deputy Chief Constable John Campbell spouted:
I hope that his dismissal sends a strong message to the public that we will investigate all reports of
misconduct and deal robustly and swiftly with anyone who is found to have breached the standards expected.
A boy who sent a naked photograph of himself to a girl at school has had the crime of making and distributing child pornography images recorded against him by police, the BBC has learnt.
The boy, aged 14, who was not arrested or charged, could have
his name stored on a police database for 10 years. The information could also be disclosed to future employers, his mother said.
Police said three children were named in a crime report, but it was not in the public interest to prosecute.
The Criminal Bar Association said the case highlighted the dangers of needlessly criminalising children.
The schoolboy took the naked photo of himself in his own bedroom. He then sent it to a girl from his school using Snapchat - an app which deletes direct messages within 10 seconds. However, before the image disappeared, the girl saved it on her
own phone and it was then sent to other pupils at the school.
The matter was brought to the attention of a police officer based at the school and it has now been officially recorded as a crime.
The 'crime' will now be flagged up in a DBS
check routinely initiated before being allowed to work in many jobs.
Former MP Julian Huppert reveals the aptly dated law presumably used to authorise GCHQ state snooping. And guess who's government authorised this mass invasion of privacy including all of the nation's private family baby pictures?
For years, many of us were concerned about how much British state surveillance was authorised under RIPA, the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000. Access to information presented as essential for national security and preventing major crime was
used, for example, to check whether people were sneaking into the wrong school catchment area. However, it wasn't until the Snowden revelations came out that the public even started to realise just how much could be scrutinised.
Even then, there was a very lacklustre reaction from within the UK, especially when compared to the response in countries like the USA and Germany. Why is this? Well, probably because whereas they have experiences of the Stasi and McCarthyism, we have James Bond.
But we have now at last reached agreement that RIPA needs to be rewritten, although many of us have a huge concern that the Home Secretary will follow the approach she tried to use in the rejected communications data bill, and
seek to extend powers very widely. Last time, her efforts led a cross-party cross-House committee to describe the Home Office information as fanciful and misleading -- will she have learned her lesson this time?
But even if
RIPA were fixed, to protect privacy as well as security, there would still be a gaping hole in our protections from excessive state surveillance. It's a well hidden hole. So most people are simply unaware of its existence. And appropriately enough, it
dates back to 1984.
The Telecommunications Act 1984 is an important, but somewhat technical piece of legislation, detailing how BT was to be privatised, and creating Oftel (now Ofcom). If you read it, you can go through 87 pages of technical language about the duties of the
Director General of Telecommunications, what should happen about billing disputes and much more. And then you reach a very interesting clause, tucked away in miscellaneous, after the worthy power to provide grants to promote the interests of disabled
persons. So well tucked away, in fact, that it was never even debated in parliament.
Clause 94 Directions in the interests of national security etc. is an astonishing piece of legislation. It's worth reading in full
It allows any Secretary of State to give to Ofcom or any providers of public electronic communications networks such
directions of a general character as appear to the Secretary of State to be necessary in the interests of national security or relations with the government of a country or territory outside the United Kingdom. They can also be instructed to do,
or not to do any particular thing specified, and they have to do this notwithstanding any other duty they would otherwise have under telecommunications legislation.
That's a pretty astonishingly broad power -- such
people can be ordered to do or not do anything at all, and not even just in the interests of our own national security, but if it would help relations with another country. So if the US -- or Russia or China, in theory -- asked us to make a telecoms
company put US-supplied black boxes of unknown purpose on their network, the government has the power do that without even having to ask for a reason.
But there is a safeguard. The law says that the Secretary of State has to lay
before parliament a copy of every such direction. This would then allow parliament to be alert to any misuse ... except that the clause goes on to say unless [the Secretary of State] is of the opinion that disclosure of the direction is against the
interests of national security or relations with the government of a country or territory outside the United Kingdom, or the commercial interests of any person.
So if it might risk our national security, which is fair enough,
or might annoy someone else, be they another country, a company or an individual, then it is kept secret -- no one is allowed to disclose anything about it.
So if the US asked us to make BT install some spyware, or to hand over
user data, no one can be told about it if that would upset either the US or BT.
And in fact there has been no scrutiny of these orders. I spent some considerable time as an MP pushing on this, trying to find out how often these
extraordinary powers were used, and who checked they were appropriate. I got nowhere, with the security minister James Brokenshire saying: If the question relates to section 94 of the Telecommunications Act, then I am afraid I can neither confirm nor
deny any issues in relation to the utilisation or otherwise of section 94.
This urgently needs to be fixed. Is there a place for such powers for national security? Well, maybe -- but there should be a case made for it based on
evidence, and ideally a judge should approve the directions, in secret if necessary, but subject to substantial oversight -- from someone allowed to tell us if they find any problems.
As it is now, we have secret, all-powerful
directions, with no reporting and no oversight. Big Brother would be proud.
Section 94: Directions in the interests of national security etc.
(1) The Secretary of State may, after consultation with a person to whom this section applies, give to that person such directions of a general character as appear to the Secretary of State to be necessary in the interests of
national security or relations with the government of a country or territory outside the United Kingdom.
(2) If it appears to the Secretary of State to be necessary to do so in the interests of national security or relations
with the government of a country or territory outside the United Kingdom, he may, after consultation with a person to whom this section applies, give to that person a direction requiring him (according to the circumstances of the case) to do, or not to
do, a particular thing specified in the direction.
(2A) The Secretary of State shall not give a direction under subsection (1) or (2) unless he believes that the conduct required by the direction is proportionate to what is
sought to be achieved by that conduct.
(3) A person to whom this section applies shall give effect to any direction given to him by the Secretary of State under this section notwithstanding any other duty imposed on him by or
under Part 1 or Chapter 1 of Part 2 of the Communications Act 2003 and, in the case of a direction to a provider of a public electronic communications network, notwithstanding that it relates to him in a capacity other than as the provider of such a
(4) The Secretary of State shall lay before each House of Parliament a copy of every direction given under this section unless he is of opinion that disclosure of the direction is against the interests of national
security or relations with the government of a country or territory outside the United Kingdom, or the commercial interests of any person.
(5) A person shall not disclose, or be required by virtue of any enactment or
otherwise to disclose, anything done by virtue of this section if the Secretary of State has notified him that the Secretary of State is of the opinion that disclosure of that thing is against the interests of national security or relations with the
government of a country or territory outside the United Kingdom, or the commercial interests of some other person.
(6) The Secretary of State may, with the approval of the Treasury, make grants to providers of public
electronic communications networks for the purpose of defraying or contributing towards any losses they may sustain by reason of compliance with the directions given under this section.
(7) There shall be paid out of money
provided by Parliament any sums required by the Secretary of State for making grants under this section.
(8) This section applies to OFCOM and to providers of public electronic communications networks.
Brighton has a reputation for permissiveness and a liberal, laid-back, independent attitude, but it appears to have taken an uncharacteristically authoritarian approach into what you can and can't do for free on its beaches and environs.
wanting take pictures or carry out an interview on its beach or in town, the city council has decreed that there is a £200 fee.
Civil liberty campaigners and champions of a free press have expressed bemusement after Brighton & Hove city
council tried to charge the fee for working on its beach or other parts of the city. Caroline Lucas , the Green MP for Brighton, has investigated and expressed her concern. Index on Censorship is among the organisations that said the move ran counter to
the right to freedom of expression.
Jodie Ginsberg, chief executive of Index on Censorship , said:
Journalists should not be charged in order to carry out their jobs. This runs counter to all the principles that
should underpin a free and independent media.
Bob Satchwell, executive director of the Society of Editors , branded the move outrageous. He said:
Beaches and streets are public places. If local
councils are to start charging for reporting the news, it is time someone reminded them that we are supposed to live in a free society.
When the Guardian asked the council again about the policy, its press office said it stemmed from
a decision made by the economic development and culture committee in June last year, at which point the council was run by the Green party.
The council approved new fees and charges payable for filming in the city. In 2013-14 the council was paid
more than £33,000 for 135 pieces of filming. It agreed to introduce a new structure from 2014-15 that would include an increase in charges and the introduction of a £50 administration charge and hourly rates.
Immigration laws leave an estimated 33,000 people unable to remain with spouses in Britain as they do not earn enough to satisfy visa requirements.
The rules were introduced on 9 July 2012, and every year dozens of couples who have been separated from
their partners and children gather outside the Home Office to protest a law which means around 47% of Britons do not earn enough to fall in love with a foreigner.
Don Flynn, of Migrant Rights Network, which hosted the demo along with BritCits, an
organisation for affected couples, said the British economy had suffered because of the law:
The government claimed it would save £650m, but research from Middlesex University found that if, as expected, most of these
spouses would have found employment, that would have made a contribution of over £850m.
There was a common thread among those who came to protest on Thursday, regardless of their background. All said that everyone they met thought the
law was wrong.
Among those protesting were family members with children living abroad, unable to return because of visa laws.
Nigel Johnson brought his 11-year-old stepson Jeff to the protest from north Devon, with the youngster proudly
wearing his British public school uniform. Nigel's wife Burphan, Jeff's mother, is still in Bangkok. J ohnson said:
We don't even intend to stay here long term, but we've scraped every penny together from the
extended family to give this boy a proper British education. In just two years, with English as his second language, he's top of his class. But of course, he misses cuddles from his mum.
I've cut grass, I've cleaned holiday
cottages, I've worked six jobs to get my income over the threshold and still we are being turned down.
The legal fight against the law is now in its final throes. In 2013, the high court found the threshold of £18,600 was too high,
with Mr Justice Blake calling the law unjustified but it was overturned by the court of appeal and the case is now at the supreme court, due to sit this September. That same month will also see a report from children's commissioner Anne Longfield
examining the effects of the law on children separated from a parent.
But many of the couples at Thursday's protest who had successfully managed to settle in the UK said they had used a legal technicality known as the Surinder Singh route, after
the landmark case. It paved the way for Britons to work abroad in another European Economic Area country before bringing a non-European spouse to the UK, so EEA law on spouses, which is more generous, can take precedent.
Mrs Pineda-Andrews said
the system had coloured her view of Britain. I experienced so much bigotry, to be with the person I love. She smiled as she held up her passport, with the British visa inside. We are still fighting because we want change, I wouldn't wish this
on my worst enemy. Well, maybe on Theresa May.
More than 450 high-street head shops and online sellers of legal highs face closure across Britain under the blanket ban on new psychoactive substances to be debated in parliament on Tuesday.
The first Home Office estimate of the extent of the
trade in legal highs, which are to be banned from April next year, describes it as an industry making a 40% profit of £32m a year on an annual turnover of £82m.
The psychoactive substances bill, which is to receive its second reading in the House
of Lords on Tuesday, is designed to ban the trade in legal highs, probably from April next year. The legislation includes exemptions for everyday legitimate psychoactive substances including alcohol, tobacco and caffeine and is also expected to include
an exemption for legitimate medical and scientific research.
The ban will cover a range of synthetic chemical substances designed to mimic traditional illegal drugs such as cannabis and ecstasy and will extend to cover nitrous oxide -- laughing
gas or hippy crack -- the second most popular recreational drug in Britain.
The estimate of the size of the legal highs market is the first indication of the scale of the industry that faces closure as a result of the ban. The Home Office
estimate that based on police and local authority sources there are about 335 high street head shops for whom legal highs is a main source of income. On top of this there are a further 115 UK-based websites offering them for sale online.
The Home Office says there are a further 210 smaller suppliers of legal highs including tattoo parlours, sex shops and newsagents for whom the trade is not a major source of income but which will also be hit by the ban.
The bill is expected to receive widespread support in its second reading in the House of Lords on Tuesday. But Lady Meacher, of the all-party parliamentary group for drug policy reform, is expected to warn that the blanket ban will lead to young
people turning back to street dealers or the internet, and will not reduce their overall use.
So in a week where the police ARE threatening to jail innocent kids for sexting, they are asking parents not to teach their kids that the police will take them away if they are naughty.
Many an exasperated parent has told their misbehaving child to be
good or the police will put them in prison. But now one police force has issued a poster urging adults not to use this common threat. The poster from Durham Constabulary reads:
Parents. Please don't tell your children
that we will take them off to jail if they are bad. We want them to run to us if they are scared, not be scared of us. Thank You.
However the kids would be better advised to keep clear of the police lest they get locked up for
sexting, bad taste jokes, or even just insulting posts on Twitter or Facebook.
The number of prosecutions of internet trolls has soared eightfold in the last 10 years, according to new figures. More than 1,200 people were found guilty of offences under Section 127 of the Communications Act 2003 last year compared with
143 in 2004.
The law states it is illegal to send by means of a public electronic communications network a message or other material that is grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character .
released by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) show that 1,501 defendants were prosecuted under the law last year - including 70 juveniles - while another 685 were cautioned.
Of those convicted, 155 were jailed - compared with just seven a decade
before- and the average custodial sentence was 2.2 months.
Parents are in danger of being reported to police by their children's head teachers if they allow them to play video games for over 18s.
A disgraceful threatening letter sent by a group of schools in Cheshire said that parents would be reported for
child neglect if they let their kids play games such as Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto , which have an 18 classification.
It warns that if teachers are made aware their pupils have been playing these video games they will contact
police and social services.
The letter, sent by Nantwich Education Partnership, said allowing children to play these type of games on Xboxes and Playstations is deemed neglectful . The letter threatens:
If your child is allowed to have inappropriate access to any game or associated product that is designated 18+ we are advised to contact the Police and Children's Social Care as it is neglectful.
Nantwich Education Partnership covers 16 primary and secondary schools in Cheshire.
I have a real problem with our country's leadership, precisely because of this sort of nitwittery. I shake my head and wonder how someone who spouts this kind of evidence-free claptrap gets to that level.
An amusing explanation of European incompetence in allowing ludicrously complex and costly VAT laws that seems designed to crucify small businesses whilst enforcing record keeping that the Stasi would be proud of