UK Gov't Pretends That It's 'Backed Down' On Snooper's Charter

from the but-it-still-looks-bad dept

Back in May, we noted that the UK government had decided to go totally Orwellian in pushing for a ridiculous “Snooper’s Charter” that gave the government incredible snooping powers. David Cameron’s speech in support of this contained a few incredible statements, including this: “For too long, we have been a passively tolerant society, saying to our citizens: as long as you obey the law, we will leave you alone.” Message read loud and clear: tolerance is over, Big Brother is here to smack you down for anything you say or do that it doesn’t like.

Now, with the details finally set to come out, it appears that UK Home Secretary Theresa May is trying to soft pedal them, claiming that the government has been “forced to backtrack” on the plan, because they agreed to remove just a few of the most ridiculous aspects of the original plan.

In a statement, senior sources said that rather than increasing intrusive surveillance, the bill would bar police and security services from accessing people?s browsing histories ? a power demanded by the security services ? and that ?any access to internet connection records will be strictly limited and targeted?.

They also revealed that ministers had ruled out plans to restrict or ban companies from encrypting material on the internet that had alarmed privacy and technology campaigners.

In what they said was a further change, ministers would not, as they had previously suggested, demand that UK communication service providers (CSPs) should capture and store internet traffic from companies based in the United States.

These are welcome changes, but they’re fairly limited. “Restricting or banning” encryption was always a non-starter. The much bigger concern is requiring backdoors. And, also, as the Intercept’s Ryan Gallagher points out, the claim of not keeping web browsing data is laughable, since GCHQ already does it.

Wired UK has an article detailing many of the other expected problems with the UK’s proposal, so don’t fall for the claim that the government is “backing down” on surveillance. It sounds like they just realized people were going to be pissed off and decided to pretend they had “backed down” by dropping a few of the really crazy aspects of the plan, while still planning to push through the rest.

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Comments on “UK Gov't Pretends That It's 'Backed Down' On Snooper's Charter”

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That One Guy (profile) says:

"Tell you what, as a compromise, I'll only burn down HALF of your house."

A standard, sleazy, and blatantly obvious tactic. Propose insanely excessive laws, and then ‘compromise’ by ‘dialing them back’ to the level that you intended all along.

If you want $10 million, demand $20 million at first, and then generously settle for only $10 million.

If you want to spy on everyone in a given town, demand the ability to spy on everyone in the state, and then graciously settle for just spying on one town.

And if you want to have access to people’s communications with no limits on what you can do, demand the ability to access everyone’s communications with no limits on what you can do, and out of the kindness of you heart, settle for the ability to spy on everyone with limits that you will then proceed to ignore the second no-one’s looking.

Mason Wheeler (profile) says:

Re: "Tell you what, as a compromise, I'll only burn down HALF of your house."

“Daddy! Daddy! I want a pony!”


“But I really want a pony!”


sniffle “But I want a pony!”


sniffle “Then… maybe could I have a puppy?”

sigh “Oh, all right.”

“Heh heh… I got the puppy. That was easy!”

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: "Tell you what, as a compromise, I'll only burn down HALF of your house."

That is only half of it: Today, the biggest use of crazy exagerated proposals is misdirection: The media focus on the crazy and after the moderation of those demands the media will call the rest “watered down” and the passing of a bill with the completely separate holes they wanted is made a lot easier!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

To be fair that is true for many countries. Agencies have access more or less everything you do.
Using a bank account? A US agency has access to its records. Bank account is in the EU? The US agency has access to it.
Post on TD and your ISP stores that you visited the site and your Gov agency can have a look at it if it doesn’t record all traffic for itself.
Using facebook? Then they can ask facebook what cookie was registered when loading the facebook button here and to whom it belongs.
Same goes for google, twitter, and various other trackers this site wants to load.

So no matter if you obey the law ‘they’ don’t leave you alone. The only thing wrong with what Cameron said was that he was honest.

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