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UK Home Secretary: Expanded Snooping Powers “Essential” Following Woolwich Attack

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Argues that “Hate speech” definition threshold should be set much lower

Steve Watson
May 27, 2013

The British Home Secretary went on record yesterday to echo other ministers’ calls for vastly expanded government surveillance powers in the wake of last week’s murder of a solider in the streets of London.

Despite the fact that the suspects were already known to MI5 for eight years, and that one of them had even been offered a job as an informant by the intelligence agency, Home Secretary Theresa May urged Sunday that it is “essential” that the security services have greater access to everyone’s communications data.

“Intelligence agencies need access,” May told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, further stating that she will seek to resurrect the Communications Data Bill, otherwise known as the “snooper’s charter”; legislation that was shelved recently over invasion of privacy fears.

“I’ve always been clear that access to communications data is essential for the law enforcement agencies and intelligence agencies.” May stated.

“There is a reducing capability in relation to access to communications data and as far as I’m concerned I think this is a very important thing we need to ensure we are giving our law enforcement agencies and intelligence agencies access to the tools that they need to fight crime, paedophiles and terrorists.” May added.

The Home Secretary also argued that “hate speech” laws should be altered to set the threshold for such rhetoric at a much lower level.

“We need to look… at the question of whether perhaps we need to have banning orders, to ban organizations that don’t meet the threshold for proscription. We need to look at organizations outside government as well as what government is doing. Whether we’ve got the right processes, the right rules in place in relation to what is being beamed into people’s homes,” she told the BBC.

The alleged killer, Michael Adebolajo, had been recorded at multiple extremist protests and events by the security services, and had been deported to Britain after he appeared in court in Mombasa on terrorism related charges in November 2010. Anti-terror police in Kenya have accused the British of ignoring their warnings that Adebolajo was a dangerous jihadist radical who attempted to join the ranks of the Al Shabaab terrorist group in Somalia.

Despite these glaring intelligence failures, government ministers are now arguing that British intelligence do not have enough access to potential extremists’ communications data. They are using their own intelligence errors to push for legislation that would see the creation of a dragnet surveillance database, allowing police and intelligence agencies to effectively monitor the communications of everyone in the country.

The so-called “snoopers’ charter”, a proposed data mine of everyone’s internet and phone usage, was blocked last month by The Deputy Prime Minister, and Liberal Democrat leader, Nick Clegg, who cited “significant reduction in personal privacy”.

However, Conservatives in government intentionally left the door open for a revival of the legislation.

Former Labour Home Secretary Alan Johnson also repeated sentiments he first aired last week, noting on the same BBC show that “We need to get this on the statute book before the next general election and I think it is absolutely crucial.”

“Indeed I think it is a resignation issue for a Home Secretary if the Cabinet do not support her in this central part of what the security services do.” Johnson added.

Former Met Police counter-terrorism chief Peter Clarke also told Sky News that new surveillance legislation should be enacted “as quickly as possible”.

“I fully subscribe to the views expressed by some very eminent people… The intelligence agencies and police should be given the opportunity to keep up with modern technology, which is all this bill is about.” Clarke said.

Liberal Democrat peer Lord Carlile, a former reviewer of terrorism legislation, also told Sky News that the Deputy Prime Minister made a mistake in blocking the snooping bill.

“All the bill tried to do was to update what is already being done day-by-day and throughout Europe.” Carlile said.

UK Privacy advocates have launched a scathing attack on the ministers’ proposals.

“It is remarkable for politicians to be jumping to legislation to monitor the entire country when all the evidence to date shows this horrific attack would not have been prevented by the communications data bill,” said Emma Carr of the UK’s Big Brother Watch in a statement released on Sunday.

Carr further argued that vastly expanded surveillance laws would hinder, rather than help with anti-terror operations, noting that it “would divert resources from focused surveillance operations at a time when the agencies are already struggling to cope with the volume of information available.”

Civil liberties campaigner Nick Pickles agreed:


Steve Watson is the London based writer and editor for Alex Jones’ Infowars.com, and Prisonplanet.com. He has a Masters Degree in International Relations from the School of Politics at The University of Nottingham, and a Bachelor Of Arts Degree in Literature and Creative Writing from Nottingham Trent University.

This article was posted: Monday, May 27, 2013 at 8:17 am

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