I and others have written about the spy’s pursuit of meta data. It’s not a problem, it’s not the content you know. This is an image from voice comms; once known as telephone conversations. If you believe this, I suggest you watch “The Wire”. Meta data means “about data”, and consists of the from where, to whom, at what time. With mobile phones, your location can be tracked whether making a call or not. This is meant to be fine, because they don’t review content, i.e. what was said; so that’s OK then. However, the spies think that meta data is the person. An important and wilfully forgotten fact is that with email you can’t separate meta data from content. With web mail, the real meta data is all about the mail provider and maybe the mail client, which is a piece of software; again the meta data they want doesn’t exist as meta data, it is content!
Monthly Archives: July 2014
Labour’s 2014 National Policy Forum took place the weekend of the 20th July. Its role is to agree a programme document which will be put to Conference in September. From this will be drawn the manifesto, and the pledge cards. This’ll be the last NPF before the election. There has been a lot of comment in the press, and this article looks at some of that from what should be our friends, and looks a bit less from some of those present, but I look at what I found. The Guardian promises the revised programme will be published in time for Labour’s Conference but recent history suggests not in time for a mandate to be established.
Just published my notes for the pictfor meeting held on the 14th Feb earlier this year, it was about Europe and the Digital Economy. And no I didn’t take Mrs L.
Last night I went up to Westminster for a Pictfor meeting; this time, Parliament 2.0: How can the internet revolutionise British Democracy. The panel speakers were, Jaan Priisalu, Director General of the Estonian Information System’s Authority, Katie Ghose, CEO, Electoral Reform Society & Ruth Fox, Director, Hansard Society, while the meeting was chaired by Stephen Mosley MP, it was kicked off by the John Bercow MP, the Speaker. The centre piece of Bercow’s speech was an introduction, for me at least, to the Speaker’s Commission on Digital Democracy which is reviewing Representation, Scrutiny and the legislative process. Jaan Priisalu talked about Estonia’s e-voting paltform, while Ghose and Fox spoke about democratic engagement.
And so now the “Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Bill” is now law. The fallout from Cameron’s cabinet reshuffle pretty much drowned it out, but we need to ask how much of the rush towards the law is actually caused by the Euroscepticism of the Tory Party. The European law dimension will return to Parliament before the general election and the firing of the Attorney General, Dominic Grieve who may have been one of the chief obstacles inside the cabinet may have been a necessary step to securing the laws passage. They would have looked foolish having got the LinDems and Labour on board and failing to get the Attorney General. What was the cause and what was the effect?
The debate continues. The Government and some on Labour’s front bench insist it’s not an extension of powers. The point at detail is whether their new definition of “telecommunication service” extends legitimate targets for warrants beyond that which it was previously understood be, to include webmail providers such as Google. It is clear that the new law extends the ability to issue warrants to overseas entities such as Facebook. I thought they were tapping email at the ISP’s mail forwarding queues so why they need this is unclear. The Tories insist it’s not an extension, it merely restates the status quo; but since they think that what GCHQ have been doing is legal then taking the opportunity to clarify the grey areas is not a problem to them. What troubles me is the ease with which the Labour & LibDem front benches agreed.
The Court of Justice of the European Union has declared the blanket retention of data by the ISPs to be illegal. The status quo is thus illegal, even if GCHQ were behaving inside the rules set down by RIPA, which we will discover when it gets to court. The Tories and securocrats should note that their idea that it ain’t surveillance if it’s not seen by people is controversial; it is not an agreed truth. Is this just another securocrat stampede as was the Official Secrets Act, RIPA & the Prevention of Terrorism Act or is there a specific fear? Is it the US use of British intelligence to target drone strikes? And what happened to the legality of spying in the economic interests of the British economy? Did that stay in?
While the secrecy, harmonisation and the inclusion of investor state dispute resolution are bad enough aspects of TTIP, it seems this is another ‘Living Agreement’. Not only will the courts that interpret these agreements be beyond public accountability, any amendments to the treaty and agreements will be so too. I found this out at the meeting called by the Open Rights Group where Nick Dearden of the World Development Movement came to speak.
Better change that then! In April, the Court of Justice of the EU, ruled that its 2004 Data Retention Directive mandating Information System Services Providers to store all their records for 12 months was declared incompatible with the EU’s Fundamental Charter of [Citizen’s] Rights. It and all the national laws implementing the Directive need to be reviewed to see if they remain legal. Last week, the Government announced that it planned to introduce new laws to plug the gap. This is to be called the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Bill/Act. (DRIP) which they plan to pass in less than ½ a week using emergency provisions and the agreement of the Labour front bench.
How awesome! The US Military having already made Batman’s surveillance machine, is now looking to recreate Iron Man.
Was NO2ID a cul-de-sac? Who should be the identity assurers in the internet age? Today it’s code, that code is owned by someone and run by someone. Once we thought banks might run it, they don’t seem interested. The NO2ID campaign polarised the debate. We seem to be in a place that either the state does so on behalf of the public or private companies do so on behalf of their shareholders. Do we need a third way? Co-ops or P2P code?
It’s getting to be an old story now, but the other week, the Sunday Times, having obtained quotes by subterfuge and without permission, ran a story that John Cruddas, Labour’s policy review chief had criticised the likely way in which the Leader’s Office would deal with what he saw as Labour’s rich and detailed policy reviews; he may have been most interested in the reviews he’s running himself, and less so in the long term policy commissions and the National Policy Forum processes, the latter of course being the process the membership are most invested in. The criticism’s are also reported in the New Statesman.
Investor State Dispute Resolution, the EU & TTIP
I have just submitted a short comment opposing the inclusion of Investor State Dispute Resolution (ISDR) clauses in the EU’s negotiating position on TTIP, and urge you to join me. I used this web site, at sumofus.org. While their tag line, “Fighting for people before profits” is reminiscent of Lewisham’s rag bag of careerists and trots, both ISDR and all the non-tariff extensions to TTIP should be opposed and the concept of putting people before profit is equally laudable.