Magna Carta versus Snoopers’ Charter

black_sheep_text_OK, this has to be a bleeding obvious point, but I feel moved to make it anyway.

After the brutal Woolwich murder of  Drummer Lee Rigby,  there were calls from the British securocrats to resurrect the discredited Communications Data bill – aka the Snoopers’ Charter.  Capitalising on the nation’s shock, they believed it was the right time to push through a particularly draconian piece of legislation, as I wrote at the time.

The aim of the Snooper’s Charter is to store all the meta-data of our communications in the UK, which means they can potentially be used as evidence against us at some nebulous future point if the legal goalposts shift – as they seem to be doing at an alarming rate these days.

Not only are activists now being called “domestic extremists” or “terrorists”, but the concept of secret courts seems to be metastasising at an alarming rate – it is not longer just a concept used in immigration and now civil courts, it has reached the giddy heights of the Supreme Court in the UK, with the secret hearings around the Iranian Mellat bank. Top UK Law Lord Neuberger was recently quoted, in the Daily Mail of all places, as saying that secret justice is no justice.

But I digress. Post-Woolwich, the securocrats were overtaken by events. The courageous Edward Snowden blew the whistle on the fact that the NSA and its pals like GCHQ are already hoovering up all our electronic communications, as well as spying on top politicians. As a result the securocrats have gone to ground, but no doubt they will try to slither out again soon.

Or perhaps not – today still further surveillance horrors emerged as a result of the Snowden disclosures: the UK listening post GCHQ, which has long had an unhealthily incestuous relationship with the NSA, has gone to the next level with the “Total Mastery of the Internet” programme, codenamed “TEMPORA”.

The reported capabilities of TEMPORA are huge – GCHQ can tap into all the information flowing through the trans-Atlantic fibre optic cables and beyond. It is truly sucking on the fire hydrant of information

This should be gobsmacking news, but the concept was already reported in The Register 4 years ago. The trouble is, nobody really cared then or just thought it was a bunch of geeks being paranoid. Now this is global news thanks to the brave actions of a whistleblower.

One has to wonder if the UK government is so keen to ram the Snoopers’ Charter into law as a retrograde justification for the endemic PRISM and TEMPORA snooping that has already been going on for years? And let’s not forget the old prototype snooping programe, ECHELON

As a leading European privacy campaigner recently wrote, by the year 1215 British barons had more basic rights under the Magna Carta than we modern day serfs can possibly aspire to now.

How can we be going backwards, so fast?

O tempora, o mores indeed….. some classicist, somewhere in the bowels of the British intelligence agencies, is having a laugh.