back to article Special pleading against mass surveillance won't help anyone

Earlier this week we discovered that not only are London's Metropolitan Police rampantly abusing data-snooping laws to hunt down and punish employees who talk to journalists, we also learned that they don't even bother counting how often they do this. Police abuse of these powers came to light, after police sources who talked …

  1. Tom Chiverton 1

    Is it too late to get your ass to Manchester to tell Labour what you think ?

    http://www.meetup.com/ORG-Manchester/events/202277812/

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      re getting ass to Manchester

      Depends upon how many carrots you use to tempt him. However, you will need to get there yourself too as asses are not much good at lobbying or voting.

  2. Graham Marsden
    Big Brother

    "Putting aside the notion...

    "...that a public sector body should be able to get away with pretending that it doesn't carry out even the most basic of internal compliance auditing..."

    What about the notion that our Police are supposed to work in an open and transparent manner for *our* benefit to enforce the law, rather than acting as Judge and Jury behind closed doors in some sort of Star Chamber manner?

    Let alone the idea that *they* are not above the law and should be held to at least the same, if not a higher standard, than the rest of us...

    1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: Graham. Mats den Re: "Putting aside the notion...

      ".....What about the notion that our Police are supposed to work in an open and transparent manner for *our* benefit to enforce the law, rather than acting as Judge and Jury behind closed doors in some sort of Star Chamber manner?...." In your rush to rant you obviously didn't take the time to read Mr Corfield's earlier rant (http://www.theregister.co.uk/2014/09/06/plebgate_metadata_sackings_reveal_dangerous_culture_impunity_heart_of_uk_police/) which included a link to the Daily Mail article regarding the trial of Keith Wallis, the 'Plebgate' Met officer convicted of misconduct after giving a false witness statement off the back of this investigation (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2553105/Police-officer-lied-witnessing-Plebgate-row-jailed-12-months.html). Haters gotta hate, I s'pose. Shame you and Mr Corfield can't even begin to question the Sun's journo's possible complicity in seeking to pervert the course of justice.

  3. Matt Bryant Silver badge
    Stop

    What a complete load of cobblers.

    ".....given that the RIPA powers it uses for rifling through innocent people's communications metadata....." What 'innocents'? They were legally investigating a possible crime, by members of the Police force, not 'slurping' anything! Are you one of those overhyped handwringers that insists taking blood samples from suspected drunk drivers is 'assault'? I'm beginning to wonder what type of 'contacts' the author is trying to 'protect'.

    1. Graham Marsden
      Childcatcher

      @Matt Bryant - Re: What a complete load of cobblers.

      > What 'innocents'? They were legally investigating a possible crime, by members of the Police force, not 'slurping' anything

      You know, Matt, you'd have been an even better Witch-Finder than Matthew Hopkins. Why bother with actually looking for suspects first, just assume that *everyone* is guilty and investigate to your heart's content.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: @Matt Bryant - What a complete load of cobblers.

        "just assume that *everyone* is guilty and investigate to your heart's content."

        Having known a few police officers socially over the years, they all have expressed the sentiment that the longer one is a police officer, the harder it is to not see everyone else as a criminal of some sort and to be able to "switch off" when not on duty or in social situations.

        Assuming that to be true, it can only be worse for those who make it up to command levels, ie the ones who make and set policy etc.

      2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        Unhappy

        @Graham Marsden.

        "You know, Matt, you'd have been an even better Witch-Finder than Matthew Hopkins. Why bother with actually looking for suspects first, just assume that *everyone* is guilty and investigate to your heart's content."

        He does, or at least they people who pay him seem to, which is pretty much the same thing.

        1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
          FAIL

          Re: John Smith IQ of 19 Re: @Graham Marsden.

          ".....at least they people who pay him seem to....." Not at all sorry if it bruises your ego to be told, but non-one is being paid to laugh at your paranoid delusions as you are simply not important to anyone.

      3. Matt Bryant Silver badge
        FAIL

        Re: Graham Marsden Re: @Matt Bryant - What a complete load of cobblers.

        "....you'd have been an even better Witch-Finder than Matthew Hopkins....." Wow, you really are determined to hate the police! You do realise that is what the police are supposed to do, investigate crimes and gather evidence so a court can establish guilt or innocence? Obviously not.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Graham Marsden @Matt Bryant - What a complete load of cobblers.

          I worked as a policeman in two countries. In both,, the first duty is the prevention and detection of crime. In both, this had to be within the law and, if it is not within the law, no matter how wonderful the investigation, the results are invalid and the police are liable to punishment. In Britain, as far as I remember, the definition of a constable says that he is a citzen having authority under the crown for ....

          Note, he is a citizen, not above the law and not empowered to use any means to achieve the end. This was part of the genius of Sir Robert Peel when he set up the first, formal police force - an unarmed constabulary drawing its authority from the trust of fellow citizens as part of the cizenry, not an overwheening group of enforcers with arbitray power.

          The old saw was, better that a hundred guilty go free than one innocent be punished. But the likes of Matt are sufficiently lacking in imagination and experience to understand that, at least until Matt is the innocent one in question.

          It's a bit like public safety - the apparently current government version in which all freedom is sacrificed to keep everyone safe (i.e. terrorists win) or the âttempt to provide a reasonable compromise between preventing terrorism without giving the terrorists the satisfaction of closing down civil society and its freedoms. Againts the IRA, by and large, we got that right; now, with a less successful bunch on UK soil, more easily identified, we can not even get on an aeroplane without sacrificing more time for the process than in the air. And yes, I was a policeman when the IRA were placing effective bombs or threats weekly if not more often and later living in London when these caused delays and diversions just about daily..

          Matt and your ilk, please, get a life and some real experience rather than just reading the Daily Mail and quivering in fear of normal life and abject worship of business and "right" wing-ism.

          1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
            FAIL

            Re: Another Cluetard Re: Graham Marsden @Matt Bryant - What a complete load of cobblers.

            "I worked as a policeman in two countries....." I call bullshit on the idea that was in the UK, especially given the accents popping up on your text, which means you actually know nothing about UK law, as proven below.

            ".....In both, this had to be within the law and, if it is not within the law, no matter how wonderful the investigation, the results are invalid and the police are liable to punishment....." Well that just shows you never policed in the UK, otherwise you would know that their actions were legal under RIPA.

            ".....The old saw was, better that a hundred guilty go free than one innocent be punished....." Which has nothing to do with gathering evidence to provide to the courts, which then makes judgement, as happened in this case with the conviction of Keith Wallis. Again, for a supposed ex-copper, you seem to know SFA about how the legal system works. Were you a 'policeman' in some Third World 'peoples republic'?

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Another Cluetard Graham Marsden @Matt Bryant - What a complete load of cobblers.

              > Well that just shows you never policed in the UK, otherwise you would know that their actions were legal under RIPA.

              And that just goes to show how crap RIPA is. Let me quote the article you pointed at since it's so nicely put there:

              "Whether they're targeting journalists or innocent members of the public, the police cannot be allowed to slurp comms data willy-nilly without proper independent oversight. Centuries ago the principle was established that the police must seek permission from a judge to get a search warrant; we should not have made the mistake of circumventing that protection in the 21st Century just because the information the police want is stored on a computer and not a bit of paper."

        2. Graham Marsden
          Facepalm

          Re: Graham Marsden @Matt Bryant - What a complete load of cobblers.

          > Wow, you really are determined to hate the police!

          No, Matt, I am determined that they should be accountable for their actions, that they should behave in a way that is compatible with Human Rights and Civil Liberties legislation and that they should *NOT* have carte blanche to do what the hell they like.

          Yes, they should gather intelligence and investigate crime, but not by simply assuming everyone is guilty and grabbing as much information as they can in the vague hope that, somehow, they'll actually find something of use.

          PS I'm really not sure what extra credibility the participation of a "journalist" from The Scum gives to your argument.

          PPS Oops! You forgot to call me MarsBarBrain...

          1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
            FAIL

            Re: Graham Marsden @Matt Bryant - What a complete load of cobblers.

            ".....I am determined that they should be accountable for their actions....." As Keith Wallis was in a court of law, and the other officers involved got fired, which sounds like they were held to account.

            "......that they should behave in a way that is compatible with Human Rights and Civil Liberties legislation......" So please do show how any of the actions carried out by the Met investigating this case was illegal under current UK laws. Oh, and please note that is UK law, not whatever fantasy liberal law you would like to have apply. I suggest you go do a lot more reading of the law before you try one of your usual fact-free responses.

            ".....but not by simply assuming everyone is guilty and grabbing as much information as they can in the vague hope that, somehow, they'll actually find something of use....." In this case they seem to have not grabbed anything and everything, but been very specific in targeting their coms with the journo at specific dates and times, probably based on the public articles printed by the Sun. Not at all sorry to disappoint you, but your paranoid desire for some 'Great Conspiracy Of Intrusion' is just male bovine manure.

            "....You forgot to call me MarsBarBrain." Only because I now consider it unfair on the Mars confectionary company to link your pitiful mental state with their product. More appropriate soubriquets as to your limited mental capabilities would probably give El Mod an excuse to block the post.

            1. Graham Marsden

              @Matt Bryant - Re: Graham Marsden @Matt Bryant - What a complete load of cobblers.

              > As Keith Wallis was in a court of law, and the other officers involved got fired, which sounds like they were held to account.

              Oh yes, Matt, they've had a *sound* slap on the wrist and that will *definitely* act as a deterrent to all their fellow officers the next time they decide to try to stitch someone up!

              > So please do show how any of the actions carried out by the Met investigating this case was illegal under current UK laws. Oh, and please note that is UK law, not whatever fantasy liberal law you would like to have apply.

              Oh dear, Matt, shooting yourself in the foot again? It is *not* UK Law, it's the law of England and Wales since Scotland and Northern Ireland have their own legal systems. Didn't you know this? Perhaps it is you who should be doing more reading...

              Meanwhile, of course, you're also engaging in your usual practice of shifting the goalposts to where your shot ended up and declaring that you've scored.

              Please try looking at the *first paragraph* of the article and note where it says "Earlier this week we discovered that not only are London's Metropolitan Police rampantly abusing data-snooping laws to hunt down and punish employees who talk to journalists."

              Also note where it says "given that the RIPA powers it uses for rifling through innocent people's communications metadata must, legally, be “authorised” by a constable of superintendent rank, the need for such monitoring becomes obvious", now tell me, are they authorising the use of these powers and then not making a note of it (as they are supposed to) or are they just not bothering with such authority at all? Either way they are behaving in a way that is not open nor transparent and certainly not in a way that is compatible with the Common Law principle of the Presumption of Innocence (even though, in your fantasy fascist land that would be the first principle to be disposed of).

              As for your comments desperately trying to cover up your error of forgetting to include your usual Ad Hominem, it seems that you have some sort of paranoid conspiracy theory about the Mod being "out to get you"...

              Anyone got a tin foil hat for Matt?

              1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
                FAIL

                Re: Graham Marsden Re: @Matt Bryant - Graham Marsden @Matt Bryant - ....cobblers.

                "Oh yes, Matt, they've had a *sound* slap on the wrist and that will *definitely* act as a deterrent to all their fellow officers the next time they decide to try to stitch someone up!...." Wow, you really are willfully blind! One has gone to prison, has a criminal record for dishonesty, and the other three all have discharges for dishonesty on their records. What, are you trying to claim that going to prison or having a black mark on your record that discourages employers is nothing? Maybe such matters are normal for you but they do tend to discourage the rest of us, and no doubt do deter other policemen from dishonesty. Please try to remove the socio-political blinkers before your next post.

                "....Oh dear, Matt, shooting yourself in the foot again? It is *not* UK Law, it's the law of England and Wales since Scotland and Northern Ireland have their own legal systems...." LOL, which is your nit-picking way of avoiding admitting you cannot provide any law broken by the Met in this case. Once again, all you do is bluster and bleat when you know you have lost the argument. The Met's actions were completely legal, you know that despite your desperation to infer otherwise.

                "....are they authorising the use of these powers and then not making a note of it ...." I have no idea, not being party to the Police's authorization system. I suggest, if it really helps you get over your bleating fit, you write to your MP about it, enquire directly to the Met, or make a request for the data under the FIA2000. But then that would actually be doing something productive, and it seems your 'abilities' fall far short of anything other than whining.

                ".....Either way they are behaving in a way that is not open nor transparent and certainly not in a way that is compatible with the Common Law principle of the Presumption of Innocence....." Firstly, you need to show that there is actually a legal requirement for the Met to record such authorizations - if not, just like all other organisations, they are not going to try double-guessing every possible data retention requirement. Secondly, you also need to show that, even if there was a requirement to record such authorizations, that there was a secondary requirement to make that information publically available upon request. The Police do a lot of work which they do not have to display 'openly and transparently' unless required to do so in a court of law, such as undercover work with informers. Thirdly, gathering of evidence has nothing to do with the presumption of innocence, it is the gathering of evidence that is used in a court of law to prove innocence or guilt.

                Unfortunately, it seems you ignored my request and presented another fact-free post. I'd like to pretend I'm surprised but - unlike you - I have a problem with willful self-deception.

                1. Graham Marsden

                  @Matt Bryant - Re: Graham Marsden @Matt Bryant - Graham Marsden @Matt Bryant - ....cobblers.

                  Snip of a lot of blather where Matt accuses me of nit-picking whilst, erm, picking nits, I'll just address the (few) salient points:

                  > no doubt do deter other policemen from dishonesty.

                  Yes, just like the investigation into the Stephen Lawrence case have deterred police officers from Institutional Racism or the finger wagging following various deaths due to excessive force by the Police stopped the death of Ian Tomlinson or... (I'd mention other examples, but Matt's blinkers won't let him see them, so there's no point in wasting my time)

                  > which is your nit-picking way of avoiding admitting you cannot provide any law broken by the Met in this case

                  No, Matt, it's pointing out that you seem to have little clue about what you're talking about.

                  > I have no idea, not being party to the Police's authorization system [...] Firstly, you need to show that there is actually a legal requirement for the Met to record such authorizations - if not, just like all other organisations, they are not going to try double-guessing every possible data retention requirement. Secondly, you also need to show that, even if there was a requirement to record such authorizations, that there was a secondary requirement to make that information publically available upon request.

                  Ye gods, Matt, did you actually *BOTHER* to read the original article? Let me quote it for you to save you time:

                  "the police refused to respond, claiming that because they didn't bother keeping records of how often they used RIPA powers [...] given that the RIPA powers it uses for rifling through innocent people's communications metadata must, legally, be “authorised” by a constable of superintendent rank"

                  And, to save you even more time, let me quote from the RIPA itself:

                  * * * * *

                  35 Notification of authorisations for intrusive surveillance.

                  (1)Where a person grants or cancels a [F1police, SOCA, [F2Revenue and CustomsF2]][F3F1or OFT] authorisation for the carrying out of intrusive surveillance, he shall give notice that he has done so to an ordinary Surveillance Commissioner.

                  (2)A notice given for the purposes of subsection (1)—

                  (a)must be given in writing as soon as reasonably practicable after the grant or, as the case may be, cancellation of the authorisation to which it relates;

                  (b)must be given in accordance with any such arrangements made for the purposes of this paragraph by the Chief Surveillance Commissioner as are for the time being in force; and

                  (c)must specify such matters as the Secretary of State may by order prescribe.

                  (4)Where a notice for the purposes of subsection (1) of the grant of an authorisation has been received by an ordinary Surveillance Commissioner, he shall, as soon as practicable—

                  (a)scrutinise the authorisation; and

                  (b)in a case where notice has been given in accordance with subsection (3)(a), decide whether or not to approve the authorisation.

                  * * * * *

                  Now you can whine and weasel and nit-pick and move the goalposts all you like (and I'm sure you will) but this is an absolute, legal requirement that there must be a *written record* made of the authorisation and that it must be passed on to an ordinary Surveillance Commissioner yet the Police have said that they *DID NOT* keep such records which is in clear breach of the law.

                  So I have done exactly what you asked, will you accept this, or will you just try to dodge the issue and make yourself look even more of a fool?

                  PS

                  > I have a problem with willful self-deception.

                  ROFL! I'm sorry, I would have liked to reply more in this discussion, but another Irony Detector has just exploded...

                  As always, feel free to declare victory (which is, of course, in no way self-deception!)

                  1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
                    FAIL

                    Re: @Matt Bryant - Graham Marsden @Matt Bryant - Graham Marsden @Matt Bryant - ....cobblers.

                    Re: @Matt Bryant - Graham Marsden @Matt Bryant - Graham Marsden @Matt Bryant - ....cobblers.

                    ".....Stephen Lawrence case....." LOL, so, knowing you can't win the argument on the current case in point, you divert off to what you assume is safer ground, and make a new smear against the police. I assume that's because you also realise you had lost the current argument. LMAO!

                    "....35 Notification of authorisations for intrusive surveillance....." Which is the section of the Act dealing with intrusive interception, which means the actual message contents, whereas this case was with regards to metadata. Under the DRIP amendments, metadata does not require a warrant. If you had bothered to do some research you might have found this article (http://www.dailydot.com/news/plebgate-sun-operation-alice-ripa/) which explains the difference quite neatly. Enjoy!

                    ".....and move the goalposts all you like...." You mean like whiningly introducing the Stephen Lawrence case when you have lost the argument?

                    "....but this is an absolute, legal requirement that there must be a *written record* made of the authorisation...." For a different form of interception. Try again!

                    ".....So I have done exactly what you asked....." No, you haven't, you have just misunderstood the law again, probably due to your childish, overwhelming and unreasoning hatred of the police. Quite illuminating. Did they take your toys away?

                  2. Matt Bryant Silver badge
                    FAIL

                    Re: @Matt Bryant - Graham Marsden @Matt Bryant - Graham Marsden @Matt Bryant - ....cobblers.

                    ".....Stephen Lawrence case....." LOL, so, knowing you can't win the argument on the current case in point, you divert off to what you assume is safer ground, and make a new smear against the police. I assume that's because you also realise you had lost the current argument. LMAO!

                    "....35 Notification of authorisations for intrusive surveillance....." Which is the section of the Act dealing with intrusive interception, which means the actual message contents, whereas this case was with regards to metadata. Under the DRIP amendments, metadata does not require a warrant. If you had bothered to do some research you might have found this article (http://www.dailydot.com/news/plebgate-sun-operation-alice-ripa/) which explains the difference quite neatly. Enjoy!

                    ".....and move the goalposts all you like...." You mean like whiningly introducing the Stephen Lawrence case when you have lost the argument?

                    "....but this is an absolute, legal requirement that there must be a *written record* made of the authorisation...." For a different form of interception. Try again!

                    ".....So I have done exactly what you asked....." No, you haven't, you have just misunderstood the law again, probably due to your childish, overwhelming and unreasoning hatred of the police. Quite illuminating. Did they take your toys away?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What a complete load of cobblers.

      Which is exactly the problem here.

      They were acting legally within the letter of UK law. Current UK law entitles any institution which has the right to issue a RIPA request (down to the village council) to do it for whatever f*** reason it pleases. This includes, but is not limited to persecution of internal whistleblowers and suppression of the freedom of the press. That is indeed legal (no point to downvote Matt, guys, he is right).

      The question is not is it legal or not, the question is why is it legal in the UK and why UK is the only developed country (I quite purposefully do not put "democratic" in this description) which does not require a court order for surveilance. While the FISA may be a cangaroo court with nearly unlimited powers it is still a court. Ditto for Russian (or French for that matter) courts.

      So overall, this raises some rather interesting questions every time the UK starts to throw toys out of the pram about "abuse of power" and "antidemocratic behaviour" abroad. How about looking at yourself in the mirror first. I know... I know... Do as I say, not as I do.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What a complete load of cobblers.

      At the time, they had not been found guilty. By Matt's logic, no warrant should be required to enter ones home or read ones private correspondence. Indeed, no trial is necessary as being investigated makes one guilty.

      The law may have been written or read inadequately. But basically, any form of "tapping", whether telephone, post or private, electronic means, should need authorisation and proper recording, if only to safeguard the legality and quality of the evidence, quite apart from the general principa of innocent until proved otherwise and the avoidance of a police state.

      I'm sure there are some lovely places for the Matts of this world to enjoy their versions of safety and legality. But they may have to be more careful what they say and write in those places.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: What a complete load of cobblers.

        Aologies, my "ones" are missing their apostrophes . "one's".

      2. Matt Bryant Silver badge
        FAIL

        Re: Paranoid Cluetard Re: What a complete load of cobblers.

        "....basically, any form of "tapping", whether telephone, post or private, electronic means, should need authorisation....." The police requested the metadata, no 'tapping' involved.

    4. Trigonoceps occipitalis

      Re: What a complete load of cobblers.

      Matt, Please, please, please tell me that you are trying for a spot in CoTW.

  4. Titus Technophobe

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but ....

    The Met Police seized records from the Sun whilst investigating the actions of their own staff in lying to the press. How this either is 'Mass Surveillance' or conflates with the actions of genuine whistle blowers is hard to see?

  5. David Pollard

    It's not only whistleblowers who are investigated

    Dr Waney Squier, a paediatric neuropathologist, acted as an expert witness for a good many years. In the face of emerging research she changed her views, disputing mainstream opinion which she thought could lead to miscarriages of justice. This seems to have gone down rather badly with the police.

    "... Det Insp Colin Welsh, then of the Met’s child abuse investigation command, was reported to have suggested police would investigate such experts and report them to their professional bodies 'to see if we turn up anything'."

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/11094379/Shaken-baby-expert-faces-witch-hunt.html

    1. frank ly Silver badge

      Re: It's not only whistleblowers who are investigated

      That would be ok if impartiality and even-handedness is ensured by the simple process of investigating all police officers, starting with the highest ranks. Let's start with London's Metropolitan Police and, er, the South Yorkshire police force. Just a formality of course, I'm sure nothing untoward would be found.

    2. Matt Bryant Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: David Pollardd Re: It's not only whistleblowers who are investigated

      "Dr Waney Squier....." Has nothing to do with the case in hand, which is how serving policemen deliberately conspired to pervert the course of justice, possibly with the knowledge and assistance of a journalist. Whether the journo was in on the act or not, the action of releasing their 'material' to the journo was a breach of police procedure, hence their subsequent dismissal. It's amazing that the same people that complained about journos hacking voicemail to get an inside line on a story are suddenly so set on protecting a journo that may have co-operated in another criminal act just so he could get a story. Oh, but then Milly Dowler wasn't a Tory. Says so much about the flexible morals of some of the posters here.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: David Pollardd It's not only whistleblowers who are investigated

        Nothing to do with being anti-police. It is to do with, no matter who is being investigated, the investigator having and adhering to a proper, accountable procedure that prevents misuse and abuse of powers. The general principal is that one can not just trawl and poke indiscriminately. On your reasoning, forced entry into your home on mere suspicion or just in hope, is all right without any warrant or record.

        One may ask oneself why these policeman are so carefully sought when the official ones betraying confidence to the press about, for example, raids on a man's house (who at this stage is still innocent) and similar matters are apparently all right. Why have there not been countless prosecutions of police for passing confidential information to the papers almost every work for the last few years? Why does this happen only when Murdoch himself gets involved?

        No one is above the law, including police investigators, whatever the political pressure.

  6. Hargrove

    Accountability

    There are two (at least two) major issues here. The first is that those who govern have authorized invasive powers that many of us feel (OK, I feel) are inherently hostile to fundamental concepts of personal rights and liberties we hold dear.

    The second is that having done so, they are unable to account for something as fundamental as the number of times they have employed these powers.

    This is similar to the US Code which imposes criminal sanctions on its citizens under laws so convoluted and arcane that the number of potential violations cannot be determined.

    We need to demand candidates who will dedicate themselves to eradicating this insanity. This will be a daunting task. My estimate is that it will take three generations to make a decent start. The pockets of the special interests as has bought and paid for the services of those who govern now are wide and deep.

    But we God-fearing English-speaking peoples need to make a start.

    1. phil dude
      Meh

      Re: Accountability

      I would demand candidates could be held to what they say they will do, that would be a start.

      P.

  7. i like crisps
    Unhappy

    After reading this piece...

    ...i have run a hot bath, poured myself a large Johnny Walker and am currently trying to 'Tweezer' out the blades from my Gillette 'Fusion Pro-Glide'.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Passive resistance

    The police have become the enemy.

    That's been true for half a century if you were black, or poor, or catholic in some areas, or foreign, or a union member. Now it's true for almost everyone that isn't actually in the government (and not always then)

    The solution is to not cooperate with the police. You don't talk to the police, you don't witness crimes, you don't appear in lineups. You don't let police join your saturday football team, you don't socialise with them, you don't let them visit your school. If the police want to strut around in military gear with unlimited powers then treat them like the occupying army that they are.

    1. i like crisps
      Big Brother

      Re: Passive resistance

      would like to 'upvote' you, but am worried about the consequences...not for me but for my family.

    2. Gene Cash Silver badge

      Re: Passive resistance

      "Here Are Some Tips on How to Avoid "Consensual" Police Encounters"

      http://www.slate.com/blogs/crime/2013/01/03/stop_and_frisk_florida_here_s_how_to_avoid_consensual_police_encounters.html

      This is in the US, but it turns out if the cop asks you a question, and you stop and answer it (fearing a beating or an arrest) then that's "consensual" meaning warrantless spur-of-the-moment searches and anything else the cop does is legal because you "consented".

      So they suggest you carry around a card declaring your rights and specifically saying you're not consenting, to protect yourself from your own police force.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Passive resistance

        In the UK they can stop and search you anyway.

        It used to be they could do it with no reason, now they have to suspect you may have been involved in a crime - since they believe everyone is a criminal this isn't much of a barrier

        1. Desk Jockey

          Re: Passive resistance @Gene Cash

          That is piss poor advice that would not work well in this country so I would strongly advise you NOT to follow it.

          If a police officer stops you in the street and asks questions, act polite and helpful and answer their questions directly with no extras. Don't volunteer stuff, but don't appear unhelpful. Being confrontational is what gets them interested in you and you should assume that if they want to, they can take you in for any damn reason they please so don't give them that reason. Yes you may feel it is an invasion of your privacy and that they are being a racist ****, but getting riled about it makes it easier for them not you.

          If you appear helpful (even if in reality you are not being helpful at all) it makes it harder for them to charge you with anything. If they then ask you to come to the station (don't assume you actually have a choice by saying no!) just politely say you would like to help them, but could they call the duty solicitor please. You will only help them with their enquiries after you have got legal advice. Stay polite and watch them grit their teeth in frustration.

          Being hostile just encourages them to put the handcuffs on you. Being polite and watching them grit their teeth in frustration is far more fun! This advice comes from police bloggers and lawyers so I suggest you follow it, not some bullshit about carrying a card and being passive aggressive!

          1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

            Re: Passive resistance @Gene Cash

            @Desk Jockey - it's a common police technique in the US to arrest people for drugs.

            Possession of soft drugs here isn't necessarily arrestable offence, So people were stopped and asked their name, they couldn't be searched but they could be asked to empty their pockets - ostensibly for police safety in case they had a weapon. If they took a joint out of their pocket they then had drugs on display on the street which meant they were dealing and could be arrested as dealers.

    3. Matt Bryant Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: AC Re: Passive resistance

      Yeah, that type of dumbness worked so well for Danielle Watts.

  9. Chris G Silver badge

    Constitution

    What the UK needs more and more as time goes by is a written binding constitution with rules written into it that make changes that affect citizens rights via Parliamentary Sovereingty or any other means difficult to make without going to the people via referendum.

    The British Government has steadily erode most of the old legislations such as the Magna Carta until they are all but repealed.

    Fortunately most of the time the UK is not run by entirely despotic governments but the potential is there for any who care to exercise it to seriously abuse the population of it's rights of privacy at the minimum.

    With the ability to access all that one may have said or done at various times and with a little careful editing, almost anyone could be made to look bad in some way or other, especially frequent commenters on public forums who are certainly potentially dangerous radicals.

    1. phil dude
      Thumb Up

      Re: Constitution

      I see the random downvoter is back. El Reg, could you check and see if that is a botnet?

      You'll get no argument from me.

      P.

      1. Mephistro Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: Constitution (@ Phil Dude)

        "I see the random downvoter is back."

        "Random downvoter"? That was brylliant! ;-)

    2. dan1980

      Re: Constitution

      "What the UK needs more and more as time goes by is a written binding constitution . . ."

      Because that worked so well to protect US citizens from being spied on by their government . . .

    3. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Constitution

      "What the UK needs more and more as time goes by is a written binding constitution with rules written into it that make changes that affect citizens rights via Parliamentary Sovereingty or any other means difficult to make without going to the people via referendum."

      That'll never work. In the end, ANY form of agreement is ONLY as binding as the parties are willing to go along with it. Once one side decides it's not worth their time, it becomes merely ink on a page. This is especially true when one of the parties is a sovereign state because one fundamental thing everyone overlooks is the very definition of "sovereign".

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Constitution

      Ah, written constitution. I see how much that helps the USA and Russia. In the USA's case, it is anchored in a mid-18th century world of very powerful monarchs and a society still fighting indigenous people and worried about French and Spanish neighbours. Its adaptability is almost entirely absent and it is used to preserve the vulnerability to mass murder and the right to use a camera to look up women's skirts. The USA president is merely a slightly constrained version of an 18th century monarch, complete with his queen ("first lady") who, though unelected and unqualified, suddenly becomes an important person ranking not far behind her husband. Where I am living has just had a visit from the "second lady" (Mrs. vice president of USA), who also got the royal treatment as if she is somebody of note.

      Yes, we really need one of those, along with the worship of "business leaders" (I think I read that in a couple of Australian states, businesses get a vote, or was it two votes; I wonder what happens when they go bankrupt, get taken over or how big the business has to be, or any restriction on what kind). So, as in NZ, whatever the rights and wrongs of Kim Dotcom, big business in USA seems able to provoke an armed raid by USA police and NZ police, illegally (declared so by a NZ court), on a German living in New Zealand for allegations that would be a civil case in most countries. So, here we are, back to abuse of legal power and authority.

      We seem to be sliding backwards in political and social development faster than we progressed. I'm expecting something like a property or income qualification to be required to be allowed to vote very soon. Not to worry, it will be in a written constitution no doubt.

      Anyway, apart from the Magna Carta, that was a guarantee of certain rights and defences, not a constitution, there are a couple of more recent documents in English law.

      1. Chris G Silver badge

        Re: Constitution

        You are correct the Magna Carta was not a constitution but it contained what are recognised as 'constitutional rights'.

        The point of a constitution is to provide a legal point of reference that is seperate from and immune to the sovereignty of Parliament to protect the populace from the random political ideals of the day.

        An example is Tony Blair who announced before he ,was elected his intention to dismantle the two house system that embodies the British Parliamentary system. Elected or not one man and his cronies should not be able to do that without going to the people in greater depth than a general election.

        I won't even go into how many freedoms he removed or how many criminalising new laws he speed.

    5. Graham Marsden
      Meh

      @Chris G - Re: Constitution

      > What the UK needs more and more as time goes by is a written binding constitution

      Yes, but what said Constitution *also* needs is to be devoid of Weasel Phrases such as "except when needed to investigate crime" or "except during an emergency" or "except for the protection of public health and morals" etc which can be used to effectively neuter any Rights that it contains at any point at which they become inconvenient to TPTB...

  10. Gert Leboski
    Big Brother

    Silence is complicity

    See title.

  11. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    FISA? Heh.

    " While the FISA may be a cangaroo court with nearly unlimited powers it is still a court."

    Except the NSA et. al. decided years ago they can even bypass FISA, FISA has even complained about it, but with no result other than some nonsensical circular logic from NSA lawyers claiming they can do whatever they want.

    But the mainstream media here in the US has not covered this to the extent they should, the powers that be have played them like a fiddle. They dutifully repeated quotes from officials saying they don't "collect" much info, but (with very few exceptions) failed to report their twisted definition of "collect" (for PR purposes these officials don't consider info to be "collected" until someone has pulled it up and looked at it, instead of the normal English definition where it's collected as soon as they've slurped it up and stored it.) They then shifted emphasis from the (100% illegal) data collection programs, to the (questionable but legal) metadata collection programs to try to shift public scrutiny away from the really problematic programs. This worked, Congress then started grilling them on the metadata collection programs instead of the real problem.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sadly we've always been subservient to a ruling elite. It took the Plague to wipe out a huge swathe of workers and drive up demand for healthy people to carry on the daily grind several centuries back, to shock the ruling elite into having to deal with we serfs differently. Sadly in this day and age nothing will change, we're working class and we're born into a gilded cage of bondage and we will die in one.

  13. Naughtyhorse

    Hmmmm time for an u-turn

    I was going to post along the lines of

    'It's the press, fuck em'

    but i see matt bryant has adopted that tack, and it is therefore utterly wrong.

    coppers? even bigger bastards than the murdoch press.

    1. David Pollard

      Re: Hmmmm time for an u-turn

      Technology brings unprecedented opportunities for snooping, and misuse of surveillance is undesirable whoever does it. When public authorities act unaccountably, however, the logic of the situation encourages others to do the same.

      To a large extent in the UK we have policing by consent. If this is to continue, public servants in the judicial system must be and be seen to be whiter than white, whatever crimes the rest of us commit.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Hmmmm time for an u-turn

        " the judicial system must be and be seen to be whiter than white..."

        I think that's precisely the Met's problem..

    2. Matt Bryant Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Nonsensehorse Re: Hmmmm time for an u-turn

      ".....but i see matt bryant has adopted that tack, and it is therefore utterly wrong...." Really? Did I tell you I'm also really, really against taking high-dives off tower blocks? Enjoy!

      /really need a 'whatever' icon for some posters.

  14. Desk Jockey

    Incompetence all round

    I don't condone police abuse of power or their complete farce of safeguards when using RIPA, but in a lot of the cases mentioned by the author he overlooks the fact that journalistic incompetence and high level politics at newspapers is also a significant factor.

    The journalist profession needs to take a long hard look in the mirror when asking the question of why the police and those in power are not being held to account. Politically biased editors and owners of newspapers are one obvious reason. Another is the unhealthy relationship of the media with the police and those in power. Also a significant is fact that too many journalists are downright incompetent (I speak from experience not just reading about it). If you are going to take evidence from a police whistleblower then they should bloody well take steps to protect their source, use encryption etc. they should also actually do some proper investigative journalism so that they find additonal evidence which helps to hide the source of the initial information.

    Funny enough, giving information to the press as a police officer or civil servant in itself is breaking the law. Can this be used to stifle legitimate whistleblowers? Absolutely. But in either case, the journalist should assume the police may investigate and take the appropriate steps and do a proper bit of investigative journalism. If you can't do that, you don't have much credibility for accusing the police of abuse of power.

    Excessive state surveillance/control and piss-poor journalism. That is why those in power are not being exposed or held to account.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Incompetence all round

      Using encryption is of course a good idea but the metadata we're talking about here is just who's spoken to whom when and for how long. Not easy to hide that. tor, gnunet, i2p could help but it'll still be obvious you're using one of those services.

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