back to article Human-rights warriors crack on with legal challenge to UK's lax surveillance laws

Human rights pressure group Liberty is taking the British government to court this week in its ongoing battle to have the most invasive parts of the so-called Snoopers' Charter struck down. In a judicial review at London's High Court this week, Liberty will be trying to convince Lord Justices Singh and Holgate that significant …

  1. DuncanLarge Silver badge

    This is why

    This is why we wont let them convince us to break our encryption.

    Encrypt everything!

  2. Jellied Eel Silver badge


    Chamberlain told the court that unlike the old Regulation of Investigation Powers Act (RIPA) regime, the IPAct legalised more categories of data for slurping by loosening previously tough restrictions on what the public sector could help itself to.

    I thought it also restricted access to data that the public sector previously helped itself to, especially bulk data. But that's always been the challenge. If the objective is to detect and prevent crimes before they occur, you need enough data to analyse and try and spot shenanigans. Or rule that out. So I commented on the 45T magnet story alluding to turning it into an EMP device, but that doesn't mean I have any plans to do so.. But someone else may.

    The media and politicians would certainly exploit it happening, with the usual attacks on the police and security services because they didn't prevent iPhone 6s getting zapped.. But without access to data, how can they? So we end up with post-crime 'detection' looking at how plotters did what they did, but the damage is already done. And saying you can't look at data makes that part of any investigation harder, along with being able to prevent any repeats.

    1. jmch Silver badge

      Re: Pragmatism

      "If the objective is to detect and prevent crimes before they occur, you need enough data to analyse and try and spot shenanigans."

      Or you could do it the good old way, boots on the ground and good connections in the local communities to get the intelligence you need." enough data to analyse " is another way of saying going on a fishing trip, trawling up as much data as you can find, in the vain hope that having a larger haystack allows you to find more needles.

      1. Bernard M. Orwell

        Re: Pragmatism

        "the objective is to detect and prevent crimes before they occur..."

        Pre-crime. An assumption that you are more likely to commit a crime than not; an assumption of guilt rather than a presumption of innocence.

        Not the way UK should operate.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Pragmatism

          Not the way UK should operate.

          Curious... Do you not think crime-prevention is a worthwhile exercise?

          1. DuncanLarge Silver badge

            Re: Pragmatism

            Crime prevention is not the way to go.

            Ever seen Minority Report?


            1. phuzz Silver badge

              Re: Pragmatism

              "Crime prevention" doesn't necessarily mean Minority Report style pre-crime.

              In the UK the term is used to cover a number of different ideas, including (eg) telling people not to leave their laptop lying around in plain view in their car.

    2. Alan Mackenzie

      Re: Pragmatism

      "If the objective is to detect and prevent crimes before they occur,", you say, as though that were something reasonable. That is a pretext for putting a telescreen in every room of every house, and on every street corner in the country.

      Crime is an essential part of any modern society, it's one of the things which keeps society moving. It must be kept at a reasonable level, yes, but its impact is less than that of the total loss of privacy you seem to favour.

      Personally, I would rather risk being at the sharp end of a terrorist's bomb than have my privacy eviscerated.

      1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        Re: Pragmatism

        "Personally, I would rather risk being at the sharp end of a terrorist's bomb than have my privacy eviscerated."

        Or, put another way, personally you would rather that the only criminals are private citizens, not your own government.

      2. Muscleguy Silver badge

        Re: Pragmatism

        "Crime is an essential part of any modern society"

        Further than that, it is inevitable. Human societies are ecosystems and all ecosystems have parasites. It is thought viruses evolved back when there were only bacteria.

        As we have seen with various sorts of cyber crime the more complex society becomes the more opportunities for crime there are.

        Technology can make some things easier. Take keyless entry and car starting. There is now an epidemic of car theft by technology as a result. In seconds they can unlock your car or prevent you locking it in the first place. Then putting data on a key to drive it away is seconds as well. Tools developed for mechanics to fix things have made their way into the hands of criminals.

        The cars are either exported or just broken down and sold for parts. Detection has dropped to 25%. Breaking the window to get in makes noise and carrying something do that can get your collar felt. 'This officer? it's an internet router innit'.

    3. DuncanLarge Silver badge

      Re: Pragmatism

      Do you put all the correct stuff you should into each of your bins?


      RIPA abuse...

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Pragmatism

      Look at all these commentards giving you downvotes.

      And yet, when a terrorist attack happens, I wonder how many are screaming that the police and security services should have prevented it.

      "Why didn't they stop it?" they cry.

      It's make your mind up time. Do you want the police et al to be able to prevent crime and terrorism, or just investigate it after it has happened?

      Put up, or shut up.

      1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

        Re: Pragmatism

        I have never "screamed" that the police/security services should have prevented a terrorist* attack. All the successful attacks would have required unacceptable levels of intrusion into everyone else's life in order to get the information that might** have led to the act being prevented. Too many people with no intention of causing harm would be (are) surveilled based on what websites they visit, and it is far better that one person who wants to cause harm should do it than ten (thousand) people who don't come under suspicion.

        However, this applies only to comms surveillance. If the police/security services had the information due to physical evidence leading to targeted surveillance and they did nothing, then I would want them hanged, drawn and quartered.

        *The word is horribly abused, and the actual risk of it is trivial, but I'll go with it for now.

        **There is only a small likelihood that any information would have led to action, at least because of the sheer amount of noise generated by the amount of surveillance required.

      2. Grooke

        Re: Pragmatism

        We're really getting the worst of both worlds because law enforcement already snoops on people and puts the "potentially bad ones" on watch lists, and then said people still manage to commit terrorist acts.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How does this work? Snoopers in government have access to all the information about the judges that are supposed to stop them getting the information in the first place. Maybe I'm looking at it wrong but I doubt they can close this stable gate.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And if they win ?

    Nothing will change.

    Look at how many high court judgements the Home Office has ignored so far.

    How may prisoners have voted since the government lost that case ... over 5 years ago ?

    I rest my case.

    1. DuncanLarge Silver badge

      Re: And if they win ?

      Its like petrol prices.

      Once they go up, they will never come down again. They fluctuate to give the illusion of a decrease, but everyone knows that its silly to think that even if oil suddenly became free that we would see a reduction in price greater than a couple of pence.

      The increased profit in petrol price hikes are too beneficial to a few just like the lax laws surrounding surveillance are too beneficial to a government that wants to regulate every aspect of private life simply to have a reason to remain employed.

      So, with petrol we can try to escape it by installing solar panels and charging electric and plug in hybrids for free as much as possible off-grid till the government decides to tax the ownership of solar panels just like windows and clocks used to.

      With privacy we just need to go deeper with encryption. Encrypt everything, keep pushing for IPv6 and DNSsec. Create distributed systems to replace centralised services like Facebook and twitter. Develop and use FLOSS tools that can be shared without a controlling central authority, use crypto currency (some parts of the world are looking to outright ban it) even if it means sticking a solar powered RPi in a tree using public wifi to take part in validating transactions (assuming that its a coin where such hashing power is still worthwhile for the network). They will complain that the kids are at risk and the crims are on the darknet, well some of that will be true as it has been for decades (when have the kids not been at risk?).

  5. Maty
    Big Brother

    perfectly reasonable

    ... if you start from the government standpoint. 'If we know everything about you, we can look after you. If we know everything about everyone else, we can protect you. It's all for your own good. Because terrorists and kiddies.'

    I'm always amazed by the bare-face hypocrisy of parliamentarians in their faux-indignation about companies like facebook intruding on privacy when government agencies are hoovering up private data on an industrial scale.

  6. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    "parliamentarians "

    99% of these f**kers have no idea what is going or why.

    This (as it has always been) has been a small cabal (mostly centered on the Home Office and mostly for some reason PPE graduates) who want to know...

    They want to know everything about you 24/7/365 forever.


    Because they do. They cannot carry out their supposed function because they are already drowning in the data they can vacuum up. But they still want more.

    And BTW note this says nothing about the already existing abilities to run "queries" because "Oh no, we don't have a single database for all this stuff, no sir, not at all." IIRC RIPA was famous for a whole bill about spying and data collection without the use of the word database in it.

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