back to article Civil rights warriors get green light to challenge UK mass surveillance

The High Court in London, England, has given Liberty permission to challenge parts of the UK's Investigatory Powers Act. The act, which was passed into law last year, offers the state unprecedented powers to monitor the population en masse, and to collect and retain bulk personal and communications data. It has been roundly …

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IPA Could Work ???

Hi,

I can see how that data mining by the security services only is acceptable, and the security services then pass onto the relevant authorities any wrong doing. They can devise and control the algorithms in place, and thus ensure that access to the data is on a need to know basis, overseen by perhaps a specialist body. Very strict controls are required.

What i think is wholly unacceptable is that every man and his dog has access to this data, and those men and dogs are NOT involved in terrorism investigation.

Regards,

Shadmeister.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Crypto anarchy 101

We were happy with crypto anarchy for the first 40 years of home computing. How about they all fuck right off now.

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Re: Crypto anarchy 101

Hi,

I thought the article was about IPA only, not a backdoor to crypto ?

I completely disagree with any weakening to cryptographic systems.

I thought that the security services were already collecting this information wholesale, and IPA just made it a bit more public knowledge ?

My comment above is that as long as it is only the security services who have access, then IPA could be acceptable. Any other request for access should come under intense scrutiny.

IPA is so disgracefully bad as anyone seems to have access without judicial review.

Regards,

Shadmeister.

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FAIL

Re: IPA Could Work ???

security services then pass onto the relevant authorities

You seem to have this dangerously backwards: Only the relevant authorities (a court) may authorise the security services to do any snooping. This is why evidence that has not been obtained legally is not admissible as such in court, though it can often be used to gain the relevant authorisation.

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Re: IPA Could Work ???

Hi,

That is the problem with IPA - no court is required to approve access to any records.

So, we have to make better, a bad situation.

If the security services are the custodians, then those who are corrupt may think differently in asking for said data. I am assuming that it is to be used for only terrorism investigations.

As i have posted below, IPA is being used for anything and everything, and those organisations that have automatic access to our web history is far too many.

IPA is a mess, the systems in place will never be turned off, so any bottlenecks, restrictions, checks and balances, must be welcome.

What i do not understand, is that crime in the UK is in decline - as stated positively by the current government, so why we need IPA is an illogical requirement to meet tackling crime, which is actually in decline.

Regards,

Shadmeister.

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Re: IPA Could Work ???

If the security services are the custodians

They never can be: quis custodet custodes.

What i do not understand, is that crime in the UK is in decline - as stated positively by the current government, so why we need IPA is an illogical requirement to meet tackling crime, which is actually in decline

Easy: governments know that passing new laws is a cheap answer to the panic they've being stirring up: this is how you manufacture consent.

There is a lot to be said for no new law without repealing an existing one.

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Re: IPA Could Work ???

Hi,

We could approach this ad infinitum with regards to who monitors the monitors. I think we have to be pragmatic.

IPA in any form will never be rescinded, only migrated or evolved into something else.

What i also do not understand, is why there is no public outcry, nor any evidence on how it helps to combat the remnants of declining crime.

Regards,

Shadmeister.

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Re: IPA Could Work ???

There is a lot to be said for no new law without repealing an existing one.

Much to be said for it - especially with much archaic (truly) British legislation that can be reinterpreted in new and often sinister (I use the terms carefully) ways. However as the recent 'repeal one bit of safety legislation, before we enact another 'Tory' approach, it does have problems.

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Re: IPA Could Work ???

It's not about crime, it's about keeping tabs on the people, being able to control people and silence them if anything that might be embarrassing to the government and its agencies is discovered. In other communist countries they make them 'dissappear', which you can't really do here.

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Anonymous Coward

Treasure trove for pirates, spies, etc.

Having all that information there, in one convenient place, is a godsend to people of questionable morals and to foreign spies.

Funny story: we were opening a subsidiary on a formerly "iron curtained" country. The tax authorities asked for a bunch of documents which included sensitive information, mostly from third parties. We wrote back and said no, you are not having those--we can come over with the documents and show them to you but you are not getting any copies--this is non-negotiable.

Now, we were fully expecting them to dig their heels and tell us "no documents no approval". Instead, they replied within a few hours with the equivalent of "fair enough, your approval has been granted."

I was taken by surprise. Common sense was the last thing I was expecting, especially considering that our response had been borderline rude in its directness.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "crime in the UK is in decline"?

@ Charlie Clark

"What i do not understand, is that crime in the UK is in decline - as stated positively by the current government, so why we need IPA is an illogical requirement to meet tackling crime, which is actually in decline"

I would suggest that at best the crime level has remained the same, what has changed is the police responce or more accurately the lack of responce.

At one time we had bobbies i.e. police patrolling a set area where they knew everyone and were a deterent. Then everyone had cars and the police disconnected from society by leaving the streets to drive around instead. Then we had the number of police reduced as the onus moved to fixing the person reporting the crime rather than chasing the crime, then we reduce the policing levels futher and now you have big call centres with actual less police then when you started.

Disconnecting your police from the society it is supposed to serve removes their effectiveness as both a deterent and in collecting crime statistics and eventually pushes your public to deal with crime themselves i.e. vigilantes

If when you call to report a crime they fail to send out anyone or mark(for statistics) that a crime has occured then how can you accurately record crime levels.

Now we have armed police wandering around where they do not know the people or the area and they are just there as a comforter.When I see armed police enjoying the attention they get from being armed then I am alarmed not comforted.

If you are going to have an armed comfort presence then they should be using the army and the police should return to dealing with crime.

Alternatively you might consider addressing the reasons for "terrorist" attacks within your borders i.e. we ignored the dissidents when they were only complaining and thought they would just go away.

They have not gone away and they are going to continue attacking where we are weak because they can get attention that way.

Given the choice between living in a prision with armed warders or returning to unarmed bobbies and keeping the dissidents out/secured then the later would be my choice.

If the police are armed then so must the criminals be and both are unprepaired for the obvious outcome of amatures with guns, collateral damage i.e everyone else in the area

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Re: "crime in the UK is in decline"?

Hi,

When i report a crime, i always get a crime reference number - so i believe it is recorded.

My comment on the decline of crime is that it can be used as an argument to modify IPA (as no government will remove it).

We cannot have the government using the statement that crime is falling, hence we can reduce police numbers, and then stating we need IPA to combat crime as it is so bad. IPA was introduced due to terrorism.

The list of authorities who can access your web history without a warrant totals 48.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Investigatory_Powers_Act_2016

I can see only 8 authorities that need this access without a warrant - possibly 9.

Whatever happens, IPA in its various forms is here to stay, and we can only modify the law.

Regards,

Shadmeister.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "crime in the UK is in decline"?

"When i report a crime, i always get a crime reference number - so i believe it is recorded."

Yes, but increasingly often that's all you get. I had a vision in the early years of the www of "e-policing", whereby when you clicked on a button a bobby would be transmitted to you over the wires. Not found to practicable sadly, but the current substitute: a crime number and an enquiry about how you feel - is pretty useless to all concerned.

The same has happened in non-urgent medicine: you mostly get 10 minutes and a printout of some web page describing your disease. These are not problems specific to policing or medicine - they're symptoms of a cultural malaise of perfunctory process and detachment from humanity. This malaise was typified recently by a council continuing to take rent payments for flats in a tower block that had just burnt down.

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Re: "crime in the UK is in decline"?

In addition to the police statistics we have the National Crime Survey which is independent and victim reported ( which is why the tabloid headlines about "WHY DOESN'T THE CRIME SURVEY INCLUDE MURDER???!?!?!!!!111" are so ridiculous ) and that seems to concur that crime is on currently reducing - in fact crime seems to have been in decline across the western world and nobody really knows why, hence the questions about leaded petrol etc.

Suffice it to say it's another classic British industry in decline.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "crime in the UK is in decline"?

> In addition to the police statistics we have the National Crime Survey which is independent and victim reported ( which is why the tabloid headlines about "WHY DOESN'T THE CRIME SURVEY INCLUDE MURDER???!?!?!!!!111" are so ridiculous ) and that seems to concur that crime is on currently reducing

Or the share of murders increasing. :-)

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the Lib Dems... promised to roll back the law if they gained power in the last election.

However they ruled themselves out from joining a coalition which made all such promises a no-op.

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They had to rule themselves out of any coalition because they got punished so heavily for being in the last one.

Coalitions and compromises are obviously still new to British voters and as such treated sceptically. This is why we've ended up with the "definitely not a coalition" with the DUP.

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"They had to rule themselves out of any coalition because they got punished so heavily for being in the last one."

Yes, too many of their voters were protest voters who wanted to be able to complain whatever party was in government. The thought that their party might actually have to make real decisions that counted was too much to cope with. And then they discovered that in a coalition you can't get everything you want and that didn't go down well either. But it would have been sensible to say nothing at all and keep options open rather than declare themselves to be an irrelevance even though that's what their core vote want to be.

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But it would have been sensible to say nothing at all and keep options open

Personally, I'm inclined to agree with this but it is often politically risky as elections quickly become black and white affairs, largely because the media can't be bothered to differentiate. Sigh.

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Pint

It's not often I agree with the folks at Liberty

but in this case I wish them well.

No government needs this level of intrusive power. Not only does it mark a fundamental change in the relationship of the citizen to the state, the level of abuse this opens the door to is mind boggling. Not only political abuse but, as alluded to in the article, if the civil service don't helpfully leave the database on a train, hackers will have the ultimate bragging-right prize if they can get into this data. That is without the access granted to people who have absolutely no need, ever, to see this information.

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Re: It's not often I agree with the folks at Liberty

Hi,

I agree, there are some completely and utterly, vindictive, corrupt, spiteful people in positions of authority and investigatory roles, and this data set will be abused.

Is there a companion law in place that details the punishment for the abuse of IPA ?. (rhetorical).

Regards,

Shadmeister.

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Flame

Re: vindictive, corrupt, spiteful people in positions of authority

There are multiple stories of "lowly" police officers misusing the Police database to harass, and in cases intimidate and falsely prosecute personal vendettas.

Wait till their bosses get hold of that data.

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Re: It's not often I agree with the folks at Liberty

I strongly doubt that the security services you support are completely free of utterly vindictive, spiteful and corrupt people who could abuse this power on their own behalf or that of a corrupt totalitarian government.

I see no need for such sweeping immoral, unethical powers.

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Re: It's not often I agree with the folks at Liberty

Hi,

I have been on the wrong end of law enforcement - and i have NOT done anything wrong. The allegations were preposterous, and had no evidential/factual basis either. There is good and bad in every organisation. I have been in communication with some very good Police officers - they are not all bad.

I support the relevant authority in their near current role - IPA is a critically flawed law, and does not have any competent checks and balances. So, if only the security services have access - then ok. This does not mean i support the bad people in any organisation.

I understand that IPA increases exponentially the possible attacks on innocent people by corrupt/vindictive/spiteful people, hence my suggestion that it is restricted to only the security services.

I do not think these monitoring approaches will ever go away (i don't agree with them), but every government seems to be doing it, so i don't think the systems will ever be shut down. All we can do is modify the access to the smallest set possible, put in place specific safeguards, and punishment laws for abuse of the system. I know it is not ideal.

Regards,

Shadmeister.

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Re: vindictive, corrupt, spiteful people in positions of authority

good example of why I've just written this in response to another Reg story

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Re: vindictive, corrupt, spiteful people in positions of authority

Hi,

Looks like a good summary of auditing access.

I would further add, the IPA law was introduced primarily for terrorism investigation. A check that could be implemented is if your name is NOT on a terror watch list (past/present) then the access to the records is flagged and the person accessing the data history is investigated.

The problem is, the scope for IPA has moved from terrorism, to anything an everything. I did not vote for this, and i do not agree with it either. My posts are an attempt to make better a bad situation.

Regards,

Shadmeister.

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Devil

@JimmiPage -- Re: vindictive, corrupt, spiteful people in positions of authority

There are multiple stories of "lowly" police officers misusing the Police database to harass, and in cases intimidate and falsely prosecute personal vendettas.

Wait till their bosses get hold of that data.

Well, maybe we could get hold of that same data? Something about sauce, a goose and a gander....

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It's not often I agree with the folks at Liberty

What can you do or prove when the abusers of the data collected are a secret organisation with nearly everything around what they do being classified?

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Re: It's not often I agree with the folks at Liberty

The government could have put in place, parliament could have tabled amendments for a better system of oversight and control, using courts and judges to give permission to issue warrants to authorise the interception of targets and collection of data, in a similar way to the USA. So why didn't it? We are supposed to be one of the free-ist and most fair and democratic countries in the world, yet we have probably the most intrusive and pervasive secret surveillance systems of any country.

Are we really free or is it just an illusion by the state controlled, manipulated media?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @JimmiPage -- vindictive, corrupt, spiteful people in positions of authority

"Well, maybe we could get hold of that same data? Something about sauce, a goose and a gander...."

you would find yourself on the same end of the law as the photographers who inadvertently take pics of the wrong people / things ....

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Anonymous Coward

Re: vindictive, corrupt, spiteful people in positions of authority

You can't make a bad situation better. We live in a democracy where allegedly the people are in control. We most definitely are not in control. As an individual how can you influence what happens? Write to your MP - have you tried that? They either ignore you or trot out some pre-rehearsed BS that represents the official party line as they are not allowed to think or act independently as that would jeopardise their career.

If you are lucky you might get movement through a protest group if you are large enough.

And issues in relation to the security services they simply refuse to even talk about, citing national security, so the issue, the complaint never gains any traction, no discussion, and within a few days the issue is dropped by the media because there is nothing further to report.

What IPA does is simply make what they were doing before legal. EU privacy legislation says that data collection must be proportionate and targeted. There is no way on earth that IPA complies with EU law. But the government doesn't give a stuff, it has all the technology in place for data capture, storage and analysis, it is not about to give that up. And by the time the EU courts of justice get around to taking action against the British government, we'll have left the EU and be out of their jurasdiction.

And this isn't solely about terrorism prevention, in order to be able to control you, the government has to have something on you they can use as levarage, to persuade you to modify your behaviour to be in accordance with what they want.

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Re: @JimmiPage -- vindictive, corrupt, spiteful people in positions of authority

@ Someone else

"Something about sauce, a goose and a gander...."

What?

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Re: vindictive, corrupt, spiteful people in positions of authority

Hi,

That was my point, there is no judicial review of IPA. The number of organisations that have access is far too many, and unwarranted.

The security services are not really interested in you unless you are involved in their remit of monitoring.

All we can do is ensure that access is restricted - which will mean removal of 98% of those organisations listed in the IPA documentation, or a mechanism to restrict access by the 98% in the IPA document. Mass surveillance may be of benefit if the government continues to cut Police numbers, but it does not mean that everyone should therefore have access.

I don't agree with IPA, but mass surveillance will never be stopped, now that it is in place.

Regards,

Shadmeister.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It's not often I agree with the folks at Liberty

"Not only does it mark a fundamental change in the relationship of the citizen to the state, the level of abuse this opens the door to is mind boggling. "

Couple of incidents from the 1980s:

1. At a grill evening at a local pub, some girl was trying to catch my eye. Up rolls a bloke claiming he was a copper with the message "Hands off, that's my brother's girlfriend." Well, she kept trying to catch my eye and I must have smiled back. This time it was "I'm a copper, I'll put the word around the local station and we will make your life hell with harrassment". I cleared off pronto.

2. A life long mate met and married a women working for the tax office, and she took a dislike to fact that I had a nicer home than they did. One or two things my mate subsequently let drop demonstrated quite clearly that she was digging around my tax records. If he hadn't been such a good mate I would have lodged an official complaint about her snooping.

Unfettered access to your records by these folks is bloody dangerous.

Now add in the fireman/council worker/social worker who live just a few doors away, and you have a very good recipe for an "Us versus Them" society.,

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It's not often I agree with the folks at Liberty

"I strongly doubt that the security services you support are completely free of utterly vindictive, spiteful and corrupt people who could abuse this power on their own behalf or that of a corrupt totalitarian government."

I have teachers, council and social workers in my extended family.

I don't think any of them are corrupt, but they can be exceptionally bitchy, vindictive and spiteful. That seems to be the atmosphere they work in. I know a couple of teachers who refuse to spend their breaks in staff rooms, due to the level of bitching going on.

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Re: It's not often I agree with the folks at Liberty

Hi,

I agree that the number of authorities that have access due to IPA is too many. I have been on the receiving end of a preposterous allegation from a Police officer. If that Police officer was doing someone who lives down my road a favour in trying to create trouble for me, i would not be surprised. Else their database has false information on me.

As you have indicated, and others including myself have stated, there are some very spiteful, vindictive, corrupt people in society, hence the reason why i initially stated reduce access with regards to IPA (to security services only), and put in place safeguards to restrict access, such as judicial reviews. It happened with telephone records, why not for internet access ?

Regards,

Shadmeister.

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Re: It's not often I agree with the folks at Liberty

"hence my suggestion that it [IPA] is restricted to only the security services."

So, who exactly, we must wonder, are these 'security services'? MI5? MI6? GCHQ? Cobra? Metropolitan Police? Local Government Response teams? The NCA? Embassies dealing with foreign powers? the NHS? FiT Police Teams? The Cabinet? The Ambulance Service? The Gambling Commission? HMRC?

Well yes, all of those as it currently stands... .

..AND their "selected partners in the private sector". Read that again. Selected Partners. Private Sector. That'd be all those out-sourced service providers we all love then. G4S, Serco, Atos, Capita. I'll be a pound to a penny that they have clauses in their supplier contracts that let them "sell" that data to their own "partners" too.

yeah, here's my tenner to the kickstarter.

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Re: It's not often I agree with the folks at Liberty

Hi,

I would state that it is only MI5, MI6, and GCHQ, which are the security services. I don't agree with ANY private entity having access to the data, as their remit will be founded on profit.

I am not in agreement to mass surveillance, but no UK government will remove IPA, so we have to modify the act/law to reduce its impact.

Regards,

Shadmeister.

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Pint

IPA

I really wish they'd chosen a different set of initials.

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Pint

Re: IPA

I'll drink to that!

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Anonymous Coward

Problem for Banks

If all encryption has to have a back door and the government can legally hack anything (covertly access, control and alter electronic devices) It must mean that I can dispute any electronic transaction I make ever, and no one can prove I did make it.

The bank can not prove I spent my life saving on beer and ladies of negotiable affection despite all the electronic record keeping and checking. The banks encryption has to have a known back door that could have been used to fake the payments or they could have been hacked, legally. As the bank cant prove I did spend my life saving as my good friend Krystal will swear I was having tea with her mother Candi, it must be a bank error, so they must refund my money.

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Re: Problem for Banks

Hi,

I re-read the article, and searched the page - nothing on crypto. My comments are about IPA and the flaws.

Regards,

Shadmeister.

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Re: Problem for Banks

I am getting quite bored of this logical fallacy involving banking.

1) As Shadmeister says, no-one is talking about crypto

2) You are arguing against an flawed implementation which only exists in your head - that's a straw man. (this is the most up to date summary I've found on who is asking for what - when: https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/06/26/australian_govt_promises_to_push_five_eyes_nations_to_break_encryption/)

3) The bank bloody well can, it's called 'reasonable doubt' and the spooks have been planting 'evidence' for a *very* long time. The backdoor would most likely be in their systems anyway - end to end to data.gov; no-one is going to insist on weak encryption, 'just' a way around it.

The problem we have is the efforts to collect data - not make Pi 3 (as the other fucking annoying argument is going...) (yes I know the origin of that reference)

I like Harry Stottle's contribution

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Problem for Banks

Prove please

re spooks have been planting 'evidence' for a *very* long time.

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Coat

Re: Problem for Banks

@AC

Prove please

Very hard to do. Because for a very long time the spooks have been planting evidence which shows that they don't plant evidence.

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Re: Problem for Banks

Wull (as letters are required in a post) :-)

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Re: Problem for Banks

The insinuation towards unlawful hacking was proposed by the original AC, I only ran with it to dismiss it. Google "False Flag Operations". While this is not planting evidence to secure a criminal conviction within a country, it is indeed planting evidence.

Anyway, this was not my main point. Point is: focusing on very specific parts of peoples arguments doesn't help - and usually ends up with a pointless argument about a trivial technicality, rather than addressing the primary concern :)

Another of my posts on how a backdoor could work with strong crypto: https://forums.theregister.co.uk/post/3220912

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Big Brother

And then there's brexit...

And May's promise to remove us from ECHR jurisdiction, revoke existing Human Rights legislation, and enact some new Bill of Rights, which will probably become better known as The Government Can Do Whatever They Bloody Well Like Act.

Once we have 'taken back control', 'reclaimed sovereignty', cut ourselves off from all superior jurisdiction we will be a lot less able to hold government to account or any standard beyond what they decide upon.

As bad as it is now I fear it is only going to get worse with less we can do about it.

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Coat

Re: And then there's brexit...

May cant remove us from ECHR jurisdiction or revoke existing Human Rights legislation or enact some new Bill of Rights now because she lost her majority in the election, and it likely she will be kicked out soon so it wont get worse but it wont get better.

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Liberty

Liberty may be opposing this but former leader Shami Chakrobarty didn't do shit once she joined Labour.

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